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File: Academic Policies > Curriculum Policies
Distance Education Policy and Process
This policy applies to all academic programs and departments involved in creating distance education (DE) learning programs and/or courses for students across Fort Lewis College (FLC).
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
August 14, 2020
August 14, 2020
pvpaa, d, distance, education
Scheduled for Review
I. Policy Statement
The Distance Education Policy and Process is part of a comprehensive approach to faculty support, professional development, and online/hybrid course quality design to support FLC’s mission and commitment to providing high-quality educational opportunities. Inherent in this commitment to quality is a recognition of the responsibility to support, in a systematic way, the professional development needs of faculty relative to teaching and learning at a distance. Any exceptions to this policy should be requested through the appropriate Dean. Final approval of any requested exception rests with the Provost in consultation with the Dean and Teaching and Learning Services, and if approved, must be stated in writing.
II. Scope and Purpose
III. Course Delivery
IV. Modes of Delivery
“Distance Education” refers to the following modes of delivery:
The college schedule of classes indicates what courses are being offered via distance education and the delivery format (online, hybrid).
Distance Education courses are designated as:
V. Teaching and Learning Services
Teaching and Learning Services works with faculty and departments on the infrastructure, design, development and delivery of distance education courses. Staff work closely with academic departments to ensure the quality of distance education at Fort Lewis College.
Teaching and Learning Services provides support in the area of distance education by providing the following services:
VI. Requirements and Expectations for Distance Education Faculty and Courses
As with traditional courses, FLC’s faculty assumes primary responsibility for and exercises oversight over distance education curricula, ensuring both the rigor of courses and the quality of instruction. With noted differences between teaching distance education courses and teaching courses using “traditional” methodologies, the decision to use distance learning must be made on a course-by-course basis, with consideration given to the content of the course, the needs of the learners, and the interest of the faculty member.
All distance education courses at Fort Lewis College are considered comparable to traditional courses and must adhere to the Credit Hour Policy, Policy on Rigor, the Learning Management System policy, and Course Syllabus Policy. Furthermore, all DE courses must go through the standard curriculum approval process as established by FLC, requiring course proposal approval from the department supervisor, Dean (or designee) , Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate, and the Provost.
FLC’s goal of offering high-quality distance education experiences taught by highly-trained faculty entails additional requirements and expectations. All courses will meet FLC’s quality standards based on the Higher Learning Commission’s Guidelines for Quality Distance Education Programs and the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric. Furthermore, course developers will originally develop the majority of the course content (it is acceptable to select online course materials from publisher content, OERs, or other online resources; however, these are considered supplemental to instructor-created content).
Course caps in DE courses should reflect the course caps for traditional courses. DE course caps may not vary from departmental course caps unless approved by the chair, dean, and provost.
The Higher Learning Commission requires all “faculty responsible for delivering the on-line learning curricula and evaluating the students’ success in achieving the on-line learning goals are appropriately qualified and effectively supported” (Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (On-line Learning), 2009).
All faculty to develop or teach an existing distance education course in the Fall 2018 and/or subsequent semesters are required to show competence in online instruction by (1) participating in the FLC course development process facilitated by the Instructional Designer (ID), or (2) providing evidence of another online course delivery training (e.g. certificate of completion) deemed equivalent to the FLC course development process as recommended by Teaching & Learning Services and the faculty member’s department chair and as approved by the faculty member’s dean.
Teaching and Learning Services provides professional development regarding course design and implementation and supports the SME (subject matter expert, or instructor) in aspects of course design and delivery. This support is provided through a combination of online activities, onsite workshops, and individual consultations in a format that prepares faculty to develop courses that are in accordance with FLC’s Course Quality Review.
VIII. Course Design Quality Review
Based on national standards of best practice, as well as research and instructional design principles, FLC uses the Quality Matters (QM) rubric to support continuous improvements to distance education courses.
QM is designed to certify the quality and accessibility of distance education courses. QM is used as a guide throughout the course development process, addressing course quality in the following categories:
Each course will be evaluated collaboratively with the QM Rubric by both the SME and the ID.
IX. Evaluation of Faculty Teaching Distance Education Courses
It is the responsibility of department chairs and academic deans to perform annual evaluations of their faculty whether they teach using a traditional format or a distance delivery format. Faculty are evaluated in accordance with the guidelines and procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook.
In 2019, FLC Faculty Senate approved the inclusion of 7 additional questions to be added to all distance education course evaluations. These questions focus on students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the online / hybrid learning environment. These responses are used to improve course delivery.
X. Course Load, Compensation, Ownership of Course Materials and Copyright
DE courses are typically part of the faculty member’s regular teaching load, with the same rate of compensation as traditional courses. DE courses may also be taught as an overload, at the same rate of compensation as traditional courses taught as an overload. Any exceptions (e.g., reassigned time for developing courses using new distance technologies) are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and as per current procedure, must be approved by the department chair, the dean, and the provost.
The ownership rights to course materials for DE courses is governed by the pertinent agreement between faculty member and FLC and will be determined, in part, by whether or not the faculty member was paid additional compensation (stipend) for developing the course materials. As used in this policy, “course materials” shall include course notes, course descriptions, outlines, syllabi, reading lists, assignments, examinations, instructor guides, content (written, visual, audio) and records of the delivery or presentation of the course in any medium.
XI. Course Development and Delivery Process
Departments or individual faculty members (with department approval) may propose new DE courses for development. To encourage high quality course offerings, proposals for creating new DE courses and programs and proposals for converting existing courses to a distance format are given careful review by Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate, and Academic Affairs. Courses that align with new program development, and/or with a high-demand (fulfilling a GT Pathway requirement) will be given priority.
DE courses should be approved at least one semester prior to the semester of delivery to allow for sufficient instructor training and course development. The process for developing and delivering existing DE courses is outlined below:
XII. Course and Program Review
After three years, all DE courses will participate in a course review process using course data as well as data from the DE-specific questions in the course evaluations. This is a collaborative revision process based on feedback from the instructor, the assessment coordinator, and Teaching and Learning Services. Review consists of completing DE course development training if faculty has not already done so and working with the Teaching and Learning Services to explore new instructional techniques to revise and improve the course. Courses will be reviewed using the following three areas:
All DE courses and programs are subject to the program review as required by state statute. In addition to the requirements of the Academic Program Review, programs with significant online presence (over 75%) need to provide evidence of the following four criteria:
XV. Related Resources
For following the policy: Fort Lewis College Faculty and Deans
For enforcement of the policy: Director of Teaching and Learning Services
For oversight of the policy: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
For notification of policy: Policy Librarian
For procedures implementing the policy: Director of Teaching and Learning Services