Online Class Sizes at Conestoga College

[The story thus far: Faculty have been invited to report their online class sizes to  One person has already offered their experience of online workloads at Humber College.]

I’m grateful today to receive in my mailbox some additional data points from Conestoga.

So… reportedly, Conestoga profs this summer are looking at teaching anywhere from three to five sections, with typical section sizes of about 30-35 students, and a reported guideline for an upper ceiling averaging roughly 40 students per section.

So… estimating 35 students per section would provide… up to 175 students for a FT faculty member teaching five sections?  (Although it sounds like 3-4 sections is more common for the summer semester.)

But here’s the thing: I was watching this promotional video from what I understand to be Conestoga College’s International Office (correct me in the comments below, if I’m wrong).  It outlines the variety of supports that would help international students to succeed in their studies at Conestoga.  I respect that video, and the work of the people who help International students to make that transition, safely and securely.

And given the current online environment, I wonder about the degree to which professors will need to be more engaged as an intermediary between students (not just International students) and those services.  Or, to put it differently, I wonder how–let’s say–120-175 students would find the supports they need in an entirely online environment, without the personal involvement of a professor.

As I’ve said before, the elimination of the “campus environment” (including something as simple as overhearing other students’ conversations in cafeterias and hallways) magnifies the role of the professor in the student’s entire college experience.  And if that professor has a weekly average of (I’m spitballing here) as little as 82-120 seconds to provide each student with out-of-class assistance, what would be the likely impact on the students’ (including International students’) academic experiences?

That last part sounds like a rhetorical question, but really it’s not.  For all I know, Conestoga College (or any other) might be providing faculty with more than the minimum four hours per week for all out-of-class assistance with students.  (In which case I would obviously be happy to redo my math above — let me know in the “comments” below.)

…Or perhaps they’re providing students with individual Support Staff mentors, to help them navigate the various academic supports that an unusually high percentage of students might require, to overcome some of the challenges inherent in isolated learning.

…Or maybe they’re providing faculty with ample time to prepare online courses that create innovative, individualized, and transformative learning experiences for the students.

…Or maybe they’re providing contract faculty with class caps that keep the demands of their grading and out-of-class assistance manageable.

Or maybe none of that is happening, in which case, well… maybe it’s a good thing if the students can’t overhear other students’ conversations?

Conestoga profs — please let me know if this corresponds with your experiences; all others, please help to fill in a provincewide portrait.  All communications to will be strictly confidential.

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