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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
January 1, 2019
January 1, 2019
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.
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.
The Instructional Design and Development Specialist (IDD), in coordination with members of Teaching and Learning Services, Disability Services, and the Instructional Technologist, 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. As a Quality Matters (QM) member, all courses will meet QM's Quality Standards which support the Higher Learning Commission’s Guidelines for Quality Distance Education Programs and the Quality Matters 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 online and hybrid courses should not exceed the course caps for traditional courses. Online and hybrid 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 requesting to teach a distance education (online or hybrid) 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 IDD 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 the IDD and the faculty member’s department chair and as approved by the faculty member’s dean.
The IDD 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. The QM rubric 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 IDD.
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 2014, FLC Faculty Senate approved the inclusion of 10 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 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. All faculty who develop the initial online version of any course will receive a stipend, per the Online Course Development Agreement. Hybrid course developers may qualify for a development stipend if more than 50% of the course is online.
By mutual agreement with the faculty member, the College maintains ownership of the copyright to online course materials in distance education courses that are 50% or more online. Upon the faculty member’s separation from the College, the College shall retain its non-exclusive license to use, update, and market the materials. The faculty member shall retain the right to use and market the materials provided the College’s name or logo is not used in connection with the materials. Copyright in course materials is governed by the College’s Distance Education Policy and Process. Examples of course materials are 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. Course materials created by faculty for additional compensation by the College are considered directed works created with Substantial Use of College Resources.
As owner of the course materials, the College retains rights here specified without further financial obligation to the faculty member:
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 administration. 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 two semesters prior to the semester of delivery to allow for sufficient instructor training and course development. The process for developing a DE course 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. The Review is led by the Office of Teaching and Learning and 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, Instructional Technology Faculty Support Manager, and Instructional Technologist and Multimedia Developer,
For oversight of the policy: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
For notification of policy: Policy Librarian
For procedures implementing the policy: Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs