W&J, like many private institutions of higher learning, measures its offerings in course units; however, it often needs to translate those course units into credit hours for purposes of funding from the federal government (student aid, for example) or for reaccreditation.
A credit (or semester) hour has generally been defined as a weekly minimum of 50 minutes of contact time plus 100 minutes of independent work over a semester (definitions vary, with federal guidelines looser than those from the Pennsylvania Department of Education or from our accreditation body). Most W&J courses convert to 4 credits.
Figuring out contact time and reporting this information was easy when all W&J courses met entirely in person. We used the following cut-and-dried way of calculating four credits for a typical one-semester lecture/discussion course:
This system may continue to work for many courses in Fall 2020; however, JayFlex courses and remote courses not scheduled in WebAdvisor for at least 200 minutes of contact time a week for each student may need another method to demonstrate credit-hour compliance.
Dr. Betsy Barr, Mr. Allen Brown, and Dr. Justin Esarey of Wake Forest University have devised a very good online tool, the Workload Estimator 2.0, for determining average time on task over the course of a semester in different modalities. It allows you to add up both contact time and independent time, both in-person and online activities.
How to use
The tool serves as a good reminder of how long it probably will take a typical student to complete various kinds of assignments, but you can manually adjust the estimates. In "Resources," you will find links to alternate ways of estimating time for various activities if you prefer.
Admittedly, some students will take longer, some will take less time; an instructor, an A student, and a D student may have a different notions of how much time should be spent on studying for a midterm or a final exam, but one needs some kind of number--this calculator will do well enough to work out what a course entails.
Just remember that it is easy to underestimate time for online asynchronous activities like writing on discussion boards and independent activities like reading/studying course materials and writing various kinds of papers.
Putting a short statement on your syllabus laying out how your course meets the credit requirement would be laudable. See the Brown University sample statements in "Resources."
Think of "contact" time as time in which the student is directly engaged with others--the professor, other students. That time can be synchronous or asynchronous.
Online, synchronous (video conference)