1 FORT LEWIS COLLEGE Distance Education Course Development Handbook A Resource for the Development of Distance Education Courses at Fort Lewis College Provided by the Center for Academic Effectiveness & Digital Innovation 9/25/2015
2 1 About this Handbook Overview This handbook is intended to serve as a resource for faculty and administrators by providing information about current best practices and support for developing and delivering quality distance education courses. Distance education courses and instructors are subject to the standard practices, procedures, and criteria which have been established for traditional courses at the College including but not limited to, faculty involvement in course development and approval, instructor compensation, selection of online instructors, pedagogical determinations about appropriate class size, and oversight of distance education programs to ensure conformity with existing institutional policies and procedures. The Fort Lewis College Distance Education Course Development Handbook has been written in accordance with the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (On-line Learning) - developed by Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC), The objective of this document is to: Outline how and why distance education is appropriate to the College s mission and purpose. Illustrate how distance education is integrated into the College s regular planning and evaluation process. Describe how distance education is incorporated into the College s systems of governance and oversight. Ensure curricula for distance education offerings are coherent, consistent, and comparable in academic rigor to programs offered in traditional instructional formats. Describe how the College evaluates the effectiveness of its distance education offerings. Ensure faculty responsible for delivering distance education curricula are appropriately qualified and supported. Outline how the College provides service and support to students enrolled in distance education courses. Describe how distance education courses are supported and resourced. Ensure the integrity of the College s distance education offerings.
3 2 1. Introduction to Distance Education at Fort Lewis College Distance education directly supports the College s mission to offer accessible, high quality, baccalaureate liberal arts education to a diverse student population, preparing citizens for the common good in an increasingly complex world. The College s distance education offerings support the College s strategic goal number three to Implement pedagogically appropriate technologies for the curriculum and the population that the courses are currently serving: a. Develop and support alternative curriculum and instructional delivery models including both distance education courses and hybrid courses. b. Increase flexibility in course models (e.g., evening, summer, cohort, etc.) Distance Education Vision Statement Fort Lewis College seeks to provide high quality distance education learning opportunities that enhance student choice and flexibility and promote student satisfaction and success The Purpose of Distance Education The purpose of distance education at Fort Lewis College is to maximize student access to quality learning opportunities through the use of state-of-the-art educational technology platforms. Distance education courses serve our students by providing them the flexibility they need to complete degree requirements in a reasonable timeframe Distance Education Objectives Distance education offerings are required to meet the same standard of quality, expectations for student learning, academic rigor, and educational effectiveness as do the College s traditional formats. Therefore, the College is committed to the following distance education objectives. They are to: Improve student access to the institution s educational offerings. Promote distance education as a viable and effective delivery format. Advance teaching and learning through the use of innovative educational technologies. Create a responsive and adaptable distance education infrastructure that will enable the College to better meet the needs of students and the community. Foster a professional development environment in which faculty actively participate in distance education initiatives and are recognized for their efforts. Provide effective student and academic services to support students enrolled in distance education courses. Support faculty as they experiment with and employ alternative means of instruction. Provide leadership in the development of courses, course materials, and use of instructional technology. Ensure quality instruction in distance education courses through assessment and evaluation. Integrate distance education into the fabric of the College, thus providing distance education students with the same high quality learning experiences as those offered in traditional instructional formats Distance Education Defined Distance education is a formal education process that delivers instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and that supports regular and substantive interaction between students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously through the use of a wide variety of learning technologies Distance Education Course Classifications Fort Lewis College offers three primary types of distance education courses: web-enhanced/blended, hybrid, and online.
4 Web-Enhanced/Blended are courses in which a portion of the time traditionally spent in the classroom is reduced and replaced by online instruction. Web-enhanced or blended courses require students to meet for in-class instruction for at least 50% of the scheduled classes. The remaining time will be spent by students accessing course materials, engaging in learning activities or interacting through the College s learning management system. Online asynchronous and synchronous interaction may be required Web-Enhanced/Blended with Lab are courses in which a portion of the time traditionally spent in the classroom and/or lab is reduced and replaced by online instruction. Web-enhanced or blended courses require students to meet for in-class instruction and/or lab for at least 50% of the scheduled classes. The remaining time will be spent by students accessing course materials, engaging in learning activities or interacting through the College s learning management system. Online asynchronous and synchronous interaction may be required Hybrid Courses are courses in which a significant portion of the time traditionally spent in the classroom is reduced and replaced by online instruction. Hybrid courses require students to meet for in-class instruction for about 25% of the scheduled classes. The remaining time will be spent by students accessing course materials, engaging in learning activities or interacting through the College s learning management system. Online asynchronous and synchronous interaction may be required Hybrid with Lab are courses in which a significant portion of the time traditionally spent in the classroom and/or lab is reduced and replaced by online instruction. Hybrid courses require students to meet for in-class instruction and/or lab for about 25% of the scheduled classes. The remaining time will be spent by students accessing course materials, engaging in learning activities or interacting through the College s learning management system. Online asynchronous and synchronous interaction may be required Online Courses are courses where 100% of class meetings and course work occur online. Online courses are for independent, self-motivated students. They are most appropriate for students who are self-directed and have at least moderate computer skills Minimum Technology Requirements Prior to teaching or enrolling, instructors leading distance education courses and students participating in distance education course should have access to technology that meets the College s minimum technology requirements. Distance education students are welcome, and entitled, to utilize campus-based facilities and technologies such as open computer labs, libraries, research databases, and high-speed internet connections. For more information on the College s current minimum technology requirements please refer to the Distance Education Minimum Technology Requirements section on the College s website Asynchronous and Synchronous Online Learning Asynchronous Online Learning Defined Asynchronous communication is a key component of flexible learning. Asynchronous learning is generally not real-time and conducted through tools such as , text messaging, discussion boards and blogs. Asynchronous learning makes it possible for students to log on to a distance education environment at any time and download documents, collaborate on projects and send messages to instructors or peers. Students may spend more time refining their contributions, which are generally considered more thoughtful compared to those generated in synchronous communication.
5 Synchronous Online Learning Defined Synchronous communication enables real-time personal participation through tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging and chat. Synchronous sessions help students feel like participants rather than isolated learners. Isolation can be overcome by continued contact, particularly synchronously, and by course activities that promote student awareness of themselves as members of a community, rather than as isolated individuals interacting with the computer Recommended Best Practices for Asynchronous and Synchronous Online Learning Best practices for engaging students in online learning communities recommends using both asynchronous and synchronous communication. The following guidelines should be considered when offering synchronous learning activities: Instructors teaching online courses are encouraged to communicate the expectation that students will participate in synchronous online learning activities. In the event that a student is unable to participate in a synchronous activity, instructors should create archives of each synchronous session to be made available to students, and/or deploy comparable asynchronous material for students to review. In order to facilitate this requirement, by the first week of the course, the instructor should clearly state the synchronous learning activity schedule, expectations for student participation, and required technology. Students should know at-a-glance when each synchronous session is scheduled so they can make arrangements to participate. Strategies to engage students in synchronous learning include, but are not limited to, using individual and group instant messaging, text/video chat, web conferencing, virtual classrooms/spaces, phone calls, etc. Synchronous instruction should not be a simple conversion of a classroom lecture to an online lecture. Active learning strategies such break-out group discussions, role-playing, debates, polling etc. should be integrated to allow students opportunities to interact with other students, the content and instructor Senior Administration Support of Distance Education In 2010, President Dene Thomas convened a college-wide Distance Education Task Force to develop a distance education model that would serve students with a technologically-based learning alternative; reward faculty and departments choosing to participate in the development and delivery of distance education courses and programs; and would be fiscally responsible. In April 2011 the taskforce submitted its report and its recommendation to create an elearning infrastructure. In response to this report a permanent dedication of funds for distance education budget was approved, a new Director of elearning was hired in January 2013, followed by the hiring of an instructional technology support specialist in May The purpose of the Office of Digital Innovation and elearning at Fort Lewis College is to support and enrich the culture of teaching and learning through the promotion of a systematic approach to the design, development and implementation of technology in education. It seeks to Support and advance the effective and appropriate use of technology in teaching and learning; Serve as a centralized resource for faculty support and information; Inspire educational creativity, innovation and excellence; Promote the design of educational experiences that increase student performance and satisfaction in both face-to-face and online learning environments Primary responsibilities of the Office of Digital Innovation and elearning include:
6 Oversight of the development of all credit and noncredit elearning online and hybrid courses. Providing resources for instructional and technical design training of faculty who teach elearning courses. Facilitation of elearning program and course development, management and quality control. Working with the appropriate academic authorities on campus to develop academic courses and programs. Working with the appropriate authorities on campus to develop non-academic courses and programs. Identifying and extending courses and programs to extend the reach of the campus community. Assuring pedagogical and academic integrity between the application of instructional design and technology and elearning courses and programs. Assuring that financial goals, financial planning, and budgets for elearning are appropriately developed, set, and managed. Assuring that marketing strategies for elearning are appropriately aligned with student recruitment, the individual program s needs, and the College s identity and strategic positioning. Development and maintenance of appropriate management systems and development processes; these would include items such as student retention, student advising, and faculty recruitment. Assuring sufficient faculty/staff resource support for elearning education in collaboration with other units within the College. Keeping abreast of leading-edge software and technology; creating processes to test, evaluate, and recommend use of learning software and technology; and consolidating and providing faculty a resource of software and technology support information Planning, Developing, Sustaining, and Evaluating Distance Education 2.1. Distance Education Course Oversight In accordance with the institution s Curriculum Oversight Policy, the faculty, the academic administration, the President, the Board of Trustees, and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education share responsibility for the oversight of the curriculum including distance education. The College s planning process is shared and includes consideration of applicable statutory requirements Individual faculty and academic departments are central to the development of quality online courses. Academic content is the responsibility of the faculty. Instructional and technical design support is provided by the Office of Digital Innovation and elearning to ensure quality course structure and adherence to best practices in distance education course environments Individual faculty responsible for distance education courses receive additional support from a number of departments. This includes, but not limited to the offices of Academic Affairs, Academic Effectiveness and Assessment, Disability Services, Information Technology Services, Library, and Student Affairs Development of Distance Education Programs Responsibility for the initiation, development and assessment of distance education programs rests with the academic department and follows the same review and approval process as proposals for new faceto-face programs. Proposals for new programs require a needs analysis, alignment to the mission of the
7 College, program learning goals, itemization of resources needed, 2 year and 4 year maps to graduation (for undergraduate programs), a five year assessment plan, a four year instructional schedule as well as documentation to meet external accreditation and/or licensure as required. Distance education programs may require additional approval from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission Distance Education Planning and Scheduling The development of a coherent curriculum requires a systematic and coordinated approach to planning and scheduling. Each semester, both traditional and distance education courses are logically planned, sequenced by academic department chairs, then scheduled by the Registrar s office. This process is led by the department chairs, and overseen by the academic Deans. Distance education courses are deployed throughout curricula as determined by academic departments. New distance education courses are offered based on the needs of current students, the needs of the community as determined through the program development process, the appropriateness of the fit for the course content to be delivered in a distance format, and the availability of qualified instructors. It is the College s intent to offer its courses through delivery formats and instructional strategies that best meet the needs of the student. Therefore, the College will continue to take a systematic and measured approach to the growth of distance education offerings. 2.4 Distance Education Budget Planning Sustainable funding for distance education is linked to the annual planning-achievement-budgeting cycle including the College s annual fiscal allocation process. Departments/programs, that seek funding for distance education initiatives and technology are required to submit an itemized budget request, as well as a justification for those requests tied to strategic plan goals and objectives. All budget requests are reviewed by the President s Budget Committee. The Budget Committee prioritizes all funding requests based upon alignment with the goals associated with the strategic plan and the funding available. The committee forwards recommended funding levels to the President for approval. All requests approved by the President are included in the budget presented to the Board of Trustees. This process is repeated each fiscal year. This process ensures the impact of distance education on the institution s resources (human, fiscal, physical, technology, etc.) do not impede the College s ability to accomplish its mission and goals. 2.5 Technology planning The success of distance education courses is dependent upon the scale, scope and reliability of technologies. The College seeks to ensure a wide range of computing services, software and support systems (i.e., library, information technology) are available for students, staff and faculty. Regarding planning for future technology services and systems, the College takes a campus-wide committee approach. The Instructional Technology Committee is advisory to the Provost and the Faculty Senate on matters related to instructional technology. Its charge is to foster innovation and promote appropriate use of technology for and in support of instruction. Members of the campus community are invited to refer to the ITC issues concerning policies and procedures or proposals for specific initiatives related to instructional technology. The Committee evaluates, prioritizes and recommends as to their implementation. In addition, the Director of elearning works collaboratively with the Director of Information Technology Services to evaluate, recommend and implement technology and technical support services. 6
8 7 3. Institutional Governance, Academic Oversight and Distance Education 3.1. Faculty s Role in the Design and Implementation of Distance Education Courses Faculty maintain a central role in the design, development, delivery, and evaluation of distance education courses. Faculty and academic departments initiate proposals to design new distance education courses or convert existing courses to a distance education format. Individual faculty work collaboratively with the Office of Digital Innovation and elearning to acquire appropriate technology/software, receive appropriate technology training and instructional design support. Individual faculty design and develop distance education courses and materials within the College s learning management system. Faculty participate in professional development activities to prepare them to deliver courses in an online environment Ensuring Academic Rigor The College s Policy on Rigor and Guidelines on Course Levels establishes a definition and criteria for rigor in all coursework including distance education courses. Academic departments have the responsibility for demonstrating rigor in their programs and courses Approval of Distance Education Courses Instructors who want to design, develop, and deliver a newly created or reclassified distance education course will adhere to the following process: Step One: Securing Course Design and Course Development Approval* Instructors who want to design and develop a distance education course must first secure, written, approval from the Department Chair/Program Director. Once the instructor has received approval, they may begin the course design and development process. *It is strongly recommend that instructors tasked with designing and developing a distance education course work closely with the Office of Digital Innovation & elearning. Step Two: Applying for Course Delivery Approval A new course or an existing course changing instructional format to a distance education category, must complete and submit a distance education course proposal form along with a course syllabus including a course assignment schedule. The proposal is entered into Curriculog by the Registrar s office. A distance education course proposal is reviewed in the following order by the Department Chair/Program Director, the Academic Dean or Designee, the Curriculum Committee, and the Faculty Senate and the Provost and VPAA. The review and approval process follows in accordance with the institution s Curriculum Oversight Policy. Step Three: Course Development and Design Once a course is approved to be delivered in a distance education format, the course designer/instructor begin working with the Center for Academic Effectiveness & Digital Innovation to assure that the distance education course (1) meets best practice design standards, (2) are comparable in academic rigor to courses offered in traditional instruction formats, and (3) that faculty teaching the course are proficient in using the technology required to deliver the course. The Distance Education Course Design Planning Guide and Course Essentials checklist are used as a tool to guide the course design so that courses meet standards expected in the quality assurance rubric (See Appendix A). Step Four: Quality Assurance Review Best practices for the design of distance education courses includes a peer review and evaluation of courses using a quality review rubric based on the Quality Matters rubric (See
9 Appendix B). Evaluation teams typically consist of members of the academic department and other faculty who have experience designing and delivering distance education courses. Results of the quality assurance review are shared with the course designer/instructor, the Director of Digital Innovation and elearning, and the department chair to implement any corrective actions before the course is offered Periodic Distance Education Course Evaluations For more information on periodic distance education review, please refer to Section Contractual Relationships and Arrangements with Consortia Partners Contractual relationships and arrangements with consortia partners, publishers, and contractors are handled on a case by case, department by department basis. Each Department Chairperson, in conjunction with his/her faculty (and at times Information Technology and/or the Dean), are responsible for evaluating and determining the academic appropriateness of materials and services provided by third party vendors and consortia partners. Prior to their usage in the classroom, purchased materials should be validated and tested by the instructor and/or the Department Chair. Ultimately, the academic department has the responsibility for the academic quality of any and all materials they choose. This includes any and all distance education materials. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the individual academic departments to ensure arrangements made with consortia partners, publishers, and contractors do not compromise the integrity of the College or its educational offerings. Any services or material that require a contract be signed, and/or College funding be allocated, must be submitted via the College s budget justification process. All contracts must be examined and approved by the College s legal team prior to execution. 4. Assuring Distance Education Course Coherence, Consistency, and Comparability (Academic Rigor) 4.1. Distance Education Curricular Goals and Course Objectives All courses at the College follow the same curricular goal and objective setting process Distance Education Student Learning Goals and Objectives Distance education courses include stated learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the course, its place in the curriculum sequence, and the degree/certificate program in which the course is provided. Academic programs map program learning outcomes and courses through a curriculum matrix which is submitted as part of their program assessment plans. Each course syllabus is required to meet the College s Course Syllabus policy which includes stating the Student Course Learning Objectives Distance Education Benchmarking Distance Education/Traditional Course Benchmarking Fort Lewis College takes a multidimensional approach to benchmarking. Student learning in distance education courses are benchmarked against traditional courses, when available, through both the Academic Program Assessment Plans and Reports and analysis of comparative student performance in courses offered in different delivery formats External Research and Benchmarking
10 In conjunction with various academic departments, the Office of Digital Innovation & elearning actively seeks out and researches benchmarking data to ensure quality distance education. The office regularly reviews studies published by higher education institutions, the National Education Association (NEA), the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC), Quality Matters, New Media Consortium, Educause, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, as well as other organizations. The office of Digital Innovation & elearning catalogs relevant data and discusses findings during staff meetings, at academic committee meetings and open forums. Benchmarks are then used to construct faculty development workshops and training, educational technology workshops, and during distance education course review process Coherent Course-Level Content Sequencing Courses and their content, regardless of delivery format, are sequenced through curricula to progressively develop student mastery of learning objectives and, ultimately, the academic program learning outcomes and College-wide outcomes Recommended Best Practices related to distance education course design/templates All distance education courses must include, the following: Course overview and introduction Syllabus Descriptive course schedule with assignment/assessment due dates Assignment and assessment overview Instructor introduction Explanation of the learning objectives Course technology overview Information as to how the student can access learning and technology support Accessibility information Method to share grades Instructional materials, activities and assessments Communication 4.5. Distance Education Course Scheduling Logically designed course and program schedules help distance education students to persist and succeed. The College is committed to offering distance education courses that enable the admitted students to complete their degree or certificate program in a publicized timeframe. It is the responsibility of the Deans, Department Chairs, and the Registrar to design, develop, and deliver logically sequenced distance education course schedules. The development of distance education course schedules follows the same procedures as traditional instructional formats. Program information and course schedules are available to instructors and students alike via the College s website Distance Education Course Enrollment The enrollment numbers in distance education courses mirror their traditional course counterparts. In consultation with the Academic Dean, academic departments may determine to modify course enrollments for distance education courses Interactive Course Design and Delivery When working with instructors on course design issues, the Office of Digital Innovation and elearning utilizes the principals various instructional design models including Backwards Design and Universal
11 Design for Learning. These instructional design methods enable the design team to consider a variety of factors to increase and support student-student and student-instructor interaction. The following factors are considered during the design process: Student characteristics Instructor expertise Multiple forms of content Interaction among co-learners, faculty and content Student abilities/disabilities Specialized instructional delivery methods Technology innovations and limitations Other characteristics of the instructional audience Learning Management System At present, Instructure s Canvas is the College s learning management system. Canvas is a highly interactive platform that enables active faculty and student collaboration. Canvas supports the integration of Interactive tools such as: Discussion Boards Blogs, Journals, and Wikis Multimedia Integration Online testing security tools Plagiarism Detection Software Synchronous Collaboration Tools 5. Distance Education Assessment and Course Evaluation Process 5.1. Course Evaluation Process The College takes a multidimensional approach course evaluation. This approach enables the College to systematically evaluate key course design elements Assessment of Student Learning The Assessment of the Major policy describes the process that academic programs use to assess student learning in reference to program learning outcomes. Departments use these findings to continuously improve their academic programs and enhance student learning. Distance education course offerings must be included in yearly assessment plans when these courses meet the program outcome being assessed Online Course Evaluations Students evaluate distance education courses at the end of each semester following the procedures stated in the Course Evaluation policy. The purpose of student evaluations shall be used for assessing the teaching performance of the course instructor, assessing the value of a course, and assisting members of the faculty in improving teaching performance and the quality of the course. The Director of Digital Innovation and elearning in collaboration with the Director of Academic Effectiveness and Evaluation recommend that in addition to the standard College course evaluation questions and department specific question, questions seeking student reaction concerning the organization and presentation of online course materials, interaction with the learning management system and technology (ease of use, interactions with technical support) and access to support services be included in distance education course evaluations.
12 Quality Assurance Review Post offering At the end of a course, it is recommended that the instructor/course designer meet with the Director of Digital Innovation & elearning to review the course and make adjustments in the course design prior to the next offering. Faculty are encouraged to seek student feedback regarding the course layout and design, instructional strategies and content during the course. During the course evaluation and continuous improvement process student considered when revising the course. Changes made to the course are documented via the Quality Assurance Review Rubric Distance Education Student Retention, Persistence, and Student Success Strategies The College has an overarching strategy for Student Success and analyzes institutional data and sets annual goals and objectives to increase student persistence and completion. 6. Qualifying Distance Education Faculty 6.1. Selecting Faculty to Teach Distance Education Courses All faculty are hired in accordance with the College s Human Resources rules, policies, and guidelines. The College s Faculty Qualifications Policy assures that faculty are appropriately credentialed or qualified to teach in a specific discipline or field. Contracts are initiated by the Department Chair and issued by the Dean. Scheduling faculty to teach courses is the responsibility of the Department Chair. The Department Chair certifies that faculty assigned to teach a distance education course have taught an online course previously or that the faculty member will have undergone training, approved by the Director of Digital Innovation and elearning before the start of the semester in which the course is offered. Job descriptions, information on competencies and backgrounds, applications, résumés, and interview packets are also available through the College s Human Resources Offices Preparing Faculty to Teach Distance Education Courses It is essential that the faculty who teach distance education courses are proficient in their subject area, skilled with technology, and are also specifically prepared for the unique challenges of teaching in a dynamic online environment Tiered Professional Development Strategy The College s training program for distance education faculty is ongoing, and appropriate for faculty teaching distance education courses. Training initiatives incorporate proven best practices in distance education pedagogy and ensures competency with the range of foundational technologies. In order to prepare distance education instructors, Office of Digital Innovation & elearning has proposed a tiered professional development strategy Tier One: One-on-One/Small Group Customized User Support This approach enables the trainer to focus on the specific needs of the participant(s) and can be offered in a just-in-time format. Direct feedback from participant(s) enables the trainer to determine if the desired learning has occurred. If not, the trainer may need to spend more time on this area and/or present the information again, but in a different manner Tier Two: Distance Education Course Developer and Instructor Training Developer training will be offered several times a year at the start of the distance education course development process. The workshop will focus on (1) the planning and design and (2) 11
13 development and implementation. The Orientation for Teaching Online training will also be offered several times a year and will focus on the essential features of the learning management system and the pedagogical practices of teaching online Tier Three: The Curriculum Innovation and Teaching with Technology Workshop Series The mission of the Curriculum Innovation and Teaching with Technology Workshop Series is to prepare educators to design, develop, deliver, and evaluate engaging educational opportunities and experiences to promote student success. The program will enable the educator to effectively employ emergent technologies and teaching strategies in a variety of modes and settings. The program will help educators understand different ways in which instructional design, assessment of student learning, technology and teaching practices can make a significant difference in student learning. Participants have the opportunity to experience a variety of state-of-the-art interactive technologies, discuss active learning strategies and assessment of student learning. They will work individually and in teams to produce innovative instructional products. The program places emphasis on teaching with technology in educational settings rather than simple point and click technical skills. The learning objectives are based on content/technology related research, industry best practices, needs assessment data, focus group results, and educator/participant feedback. Individuals from diverse backgrounds will immediately be able to apply what they learn. Upon completion, participants will have a clearer vision of how they can engage their students, employ learning technologies and improve the overall transfer of knowledge Academic Support and Services for Distance Education Students 7.1. Preparing Students for Distance Education Courses The Distance Education section of the Center for Academic Effectiveness & Digital Innovation website provides prospective distance education students with information to assist them in determining if they possess the skills needed to succeed in an online environment. In addition, counselors and advisors assist students in evaluating student suitability for participating in distance education courses Admitting Distance Education Students Admission and enrollment is kept institutionally-consistent, regardless of course mode or delivery format. Students wishing to enroll in a distance education course follow the same process, complete the same application, and register in the same manner as their on-campus counter parts. Students have the opportunity to enroll in courses on their own. It is highly recommended that students work with an academic advisor prior to enrolling in a distance education course Distance Education Orientations Learning Management System Orientation An online orientation module is available to all current and prospective. This module orients students to the learning management system and technical support services Course Level Orientations During the course design process, the instructor is supported in developing an introduction/orientation to the course.
14 7.4. Distance Education Support Services Students in online learning programs have the same access to student services, financial aid, course registration, advisement, library services, technology support, career, and placement counseling as traditional students. Contact information for each of these services is available on the College s website, portal, and/or learning management system Access to Help Desk Technical Support Distance education students have extended access by phone, and instant messaging to learning management system technology support. Information on how to contact support by phone can be found in the learning management system, on the College s website, from their instructor, or via other student technology reference resources. Distance education students also have access to other help desk related services, during traditional work hours, by contacting or visiting AskIT Help desk Access to Learning Resources Distance education students have access to learning resources including, but not limited to: the library, information resources, research databases, bookstores, laboratories, tutoring centers, testing centers, and computer labs. These departments work collaboratively to publish as much of their departmental resources online as practical. Access to many of the libraries resources is available online Student Complaint Process In compliance with the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), the first step in resolving a student or other complaint or grievance is to attempt to resolve the issue directly with the administration of the involved institution per the established grievance procedures. Fort Lewis College Student Complaint Policy is available online at In the event that the institutional process does not result in a resolution of a student complaint, the Colorado Department of Higher Education is responsible for final resolution Cost Effective Student Authentication Currently, distance education students are not charged any additional fee to participate in the College s system of student authentication. For more information on this process, please refer to Section Resourcing Distance Education 8.1. The College allocates sufficient resources to support its distance education goals. Current goals include providing distance education courses which are strategically proposed and offered by academic departments. These courses are offered and delivered using existing resources. Future expansion of distance education offerings would require academic departments to submit budget request to fund course development and design or support services. The College s current operating budget includes resources for both the assessment and elearning departments as well as its staff Distance Education Technology Plan The College signed a 5 year contract with the learning management system which is used to support both traditional and distance education courses. The learning management system is both scalable and robust and is sufficient to meet the Colleges distance learning goals. Should the College, through its strategic plan, determine to expand distance education courses and/or programs that would necessitate acquiring addition technology, such as a web conferencing system or eportfolio system, budget requests would be submitted.
15 14 9. Assuring Distance Education Course Integrity 9.1. Scope This section describes the procedures Fort Lewis College has put in place to ensure that the students who register in a distance education course are the same students who participate in and complete the course, and receive the academic credit. This is in reference to 34 CFR (g). This Policy applies to all credit-bearing distance learning courses offered by the College to ensure that a student who registers for a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program for academic credit at the College. This verification is accomplished by a combination of the following methods Distance Education Student Verification In any distance education course reasonable steps are taken by the College to assure that each student who registers in the course is the same student who participates in, completes and receives credit for the course Primary Authentication Method (Central Authentication Service) Student Identify Verification The College s primary procedure for ensuring that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program is via its Central Authentication Service (CAS). The purpose of CAS is to permit a user to access multiple applications while providing their credentials (such as username and password) only once. It also allows web applications to authenticate users without gaining access to a user's security credentials, thus providing a greater protection to their private information. The College provides each student with a unique username and password. These credentials enable members of the College s academic community to access the learning management system, library resources, the student information system, etc. CAS insures that students who are enrolled in a course only see their specific course data, and not that of their fellow students or instructors. Protecting Student Privacy All methods of verifying student identity in distance learning must protect the privacy of student information. New or returning students receive unique login credentials for initial access to Canvas, our secure learning management system, through the College s Central Authentication Service (CAS). All users of the College s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords and any other access credentials assigned. Access credentials may not be shared or given to anyone other than the user to whom they were assigned to for any reason as stated. Users are responsible for any and all uses of their account. Users are responsible for changing passwords periodically to maintain security. Users are held responsible for knowledge of the information contained within the most recent College Catalog as well as the Student Handbook. Failure to read College guidelines, requirements and regulations will not exempt users from responsibility. Verification Procedure Costs
16 The College does do not currently utilize funds for additional identify verification applications or services. If the college makes the decision to assess an additional fee to our students in order to cover the costs associated with identify verification, the College will notify our students in writing at the time of enrollment Secondary Authentication Techniques and Best-Practices Because technology and personal accountability may not verify identity absolutely or ensure academic integrity completely, faculty are encouraged, when feasible and pedagogically sound, to design courses that employ assignments and evaluations unique to the course and that support academic integrity. In order to further assure that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit, elearning recommends a number of instructional techniques and best-practices: Periodic Student Verifications Instructors have access to basic student information via the College s student information system. As a best practice, elearning recommends that in the first week of the course instructors ask students to submit a digital picture that will provide the instructor with a method of verification. It is also recommended that when instructors speak with distance education students, that they verify the student s full-name and student number. This will provide another method of verification. These periodic information verification challenges, in combination with other techniques have been proven to effectively expose students engaging in academic dishonesty. Proctored Exams Instructors are permitted to require distance education students to have their exams proctored. For online courses, this will require that the student find an approved proctor. Students in online courses cannot be required to come to campus. However, students have the option of taking a proctored test at one of the College s campus testing center or other approved locations. Instructors teaching web-enhanced and hybrid courses are encouraged to either administer their own exams or to require students take their exam in a College testing center. Unique Assessment Techniques As a best practice, instructors are encouraged to use multiple assessment techniques. Assessments should require students to frequently write, present, collaborate and interact. These unique styles of assessment are lower stakes, and depend more on cumulative learning. They enable an instructor to gain a better feel for the student s style and ability Researching Verification Technologies and Best Practices The College will continue to research, monitor and assess new verification technologies and best practices designed to further ensure that a student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit Protecting the Privacy of Students Enrolled in Distance Education Courses The College is committed to protecting the privacy of student information in distance education programs and courses. Personally identifiable information collected by the College may be used, at the discretion of the institution, as the basis for identity verification. For instance, a student requesting
17 password reset may be asked to provide two or more pieces of information for comparison with data in the College s records. All employees who have access to student information in distance education programs and courses are required to adhere to the safeguards included in the College s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ( FERPA ) Policy to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of protected student information. All College employees are also subject to the College s Acceptable Use of Electronic Networks Policy which precludes employees from using the College s electronic resources in an unlawful or unethical manner. Any unauthorized disclosure or data breach of protected student information shall immediately be reported to the College s Office of Legal Affairs. All users of the College s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords and any other access credentials assigned. Access credentials may not be shared or given to anyone other than the user to whom they were assigned to for any reason as stated. Users are responsible for any and all uses of their account. Users are responsible for changing passwords periodically to maintain security. Users are held responsible for knowledge of the information contained within the most recent College Catalog as well as the Student Handbook. Failure to read College guidelines, requirements and regulations will not exempt users from responsibility. Students are responsible for providing complete and true information about themselves in any identity verification process, in accordance with the College Policy on Academic Honesty Institutions Policy on Academic Integrity in Distance Education Academic integrity is a core value for the College. The College expects its instructors and students to demonstrate integrity. For more information, please refer to the College policy on Academic Dishonesty by Students located in the Faculty Handbook Intellectual Property/Copyright Copyright The College s copyright information website, provides resources and support for faculty including Fair Use and TEACH Act checklists. These checklists assist faculty members in assessing whether the use of copyrighted work within their distance education courses falls within the Fair Use or TEACH exception.
18 17 APPENDIX A Distance Education Course Essentials Checklist Adapted from Quality Matters (QM) Course Overview and Introduction: Overall design of the course is clearly explained at the beginning of the course. Instructions make clear how to get started and where to find various course components. (If information is presented as a video, closed-captions or a transcript is provided). A statement introduces the student to the purpose of the course and to its components; in the case of a hybrid course, the statement clarifies the relationship between the face-to-face and online components. Etiquette expectations for online communications are stated clearly. Course and/or institutional policies with which the student is expected to comply are clearly stated, or a link to current policies is provided. Prerequisite knowledge in the discipline and/or any required competencies are clearly stated. Minimum technology requirements and technical skills expected of the student are clearly stated, or a link to current requirements and skills is provided. A self-introduction by the instructor is appropriate and available online. Students are asked to introduce themselves to the class. Course Learning Objectives: Learning objectives are clearly stated and explained. They assist students in focusing their efforts in the course. The current college-approved syllabus is easily located in the course. Course learning objectives describe outcomes that are verifiable. Learning objectives are stated clearly and written from the students perspective. The module/unit learning objectives describe outcomes that are verifiable and consistent with the course-level objectives. Instructions to students on how to meet the learning objectives are adequate and stated clearly. Assessment Strategies: Established methods are used to measure effective learning, evaluate student progress by reference to stated learning objectives, and are designed to be integral to the learning process. The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning objectives and are consistent with course activities and resources. The course grading policy is stated clearly. Specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the evaluation of students work and participation. A variety of types of assignments are used to assess student learning (i.e. quizzes, discussion forums, projects, papers, exams, surveys, etc.). Instructional Materials: Course materials are sufficiently comprehensive to achieve stated course objectives and learning outcomes and are
19 18 prepared by qualified instructors. Course materials are made available or chunked in manageable segments(i.e., presented in distinct learning units or modules) Course navigation is consistent and intuitive. Content is presented using a variety of appropriate media formats to accommodate various learning styles (content modules, single pages, links to external resources, narrated presentations, print material ). The instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated course and module/unit learning objectives. The purpose of instructional materials and how the materials are to be used for learning activities are clearly explained. All resources and materials used in the course are appropriately cited. The instructional materials are current. The instructional materials present a variety of perspectives on the course content. Interaction: Meaningful interaction between the instructor and students, among students, and between students and course materials is employed to motivate students and foster intellectual commitment and personal growth. The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives. Learning activities foster instructor-student, content-student, and if appropriate to the course, student-student interaction. Clear standards are set for instructor responsiveness or availability (turn-around time for , grade posting, etc.). The requirements for student interaction are clearly articulated. Course Technology: Technology used in the course foster student engagement and ensure access to instructional materials and resources. The tools and media support the learning objectives. The tools and media support student engagement and guide the student to become an active learner. Students can readily access the technologies required in the course. The course technologies are current. Student Support: The course facilitates student access to institutional services essential to student success. The course instructions articulate or link to a clear description of the technical support offered and how to access it. Course instructions articulate or link to the institution s accessibility policies and services. Course instructions articulate or link to an explanation of how the institution s academic support services and
20 19 resources can help students succeed in the course and how students can access the services. Course instructions articulate or link to an explanation of how the institution s student support services can help students succeed and how students can access the services. Accessibility: The face-to-face and online course components are accessible to all students. The course employs accessible technologies and provides guidance on how to obtain accommodation. The course contains equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content. The course design facilitates readability and minimizes distractions. The course design accommodates the use of assistive technologies.
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