Questions & Answers

Proposed Administrative Rule to Replace AR# 4.01.001

Why are we proposing a new Administrative Rule (AR) for Distance Education at ACC?

Given the growth of distance learning at ACC, its ever increasing importance as a mode of instructional delivery, and continuing gap in terms of achievement outcomes by distance learning students versus face-to-face students as well as equity gaps among groups of distance learning students, the Provost appointed an ACC Distance Learning Task Force in March 2017.

The Provost charged the Task Force (composed primarily of faculty teaching distance learning) to make recommendations regarding distance learning course and program development, evaluation, quality assurance, and steps for growth/improvement. Please see the document for the response of the Provost to the Distance Learning Task Force recommendations (January 2018).

The Task Force recommended a revised AR, an action also recommended by the Distance Learning Shared Governance Committee. Upon first reading of the revised AR by the Academic and Student Services Council, members suggested further revisions that were subsequently incorporated.

The existing AR, first adopted in 2008 and later amended in 2010, consisted merely of a restatement of SACSCOC’s Distance and Correspondence Education Policy Statement at the time. The current version of the policy remains in effect and is also incorporated by reference in the proposed revised rule.

The proposed revised rule is intended to more broadly address ACC’s implementation of the SACSCOC policies, clarify the role of ACC’s Office of Distance Learning, and incorporate ACC specific guidelines for growth and improvement with creation of an ACC Distance Learning Faculty Handbook.

I used to deliver my class from traditional class notes. Now all my class materials are uploaded on a static website. Is my class a distance learning class?

Technology used for the delivery of distance education must support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor (this is the criteria required by the US Department of Education to allow the use of federal financial aid by students in taking distance learning). In addition, it must be an “appropriate technology” that supports authentication, verification and ensures privacy. Static websites do not effectively support regular and substantive interaction.

The college’s learning management system provides a variety of features for communication, distributing content, collecting assignments, and managing grades.

Why should faculty receive initial and ongoing training to remain in good standing to teach online?

SACSCOC requires faculty who teach in distance education programs and courses receive appropriate training. The institution's training program for distance education faculty not only incorporates best practices in online learning as supported by research, but also ensures that faculty become aware of and are able to incorporate effectively new software and technologies. Virtually all professions require members to engage in on-going professional development (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.) and we don’t believe faculty should be exempt from such a requirement, especially given the rapid pace of technological advances.

What about those who argue that professional development for faculty should be left in the hands and at the discretion of the departments?

Faculty are subject matter experts and will always be in charge of the curriculum (the content and the learning outcomes for courses and programs). However, faculty are not necessarily experts in terms of instructional design for online courses or expert in the application and use of audio, video, and other online tools.

Our objective is to provide training for faculty in terms of online tools, course design, and methods for student engagement. Faculty will not be “alleviated” of any curricular responsibility in terms of subject matter expertise. They will be asked to work together with instructional designers as partners to create the best possible online courses and programs, the quality of which will be reviewed by faculty peers similarly trained.

There are a large number of instructional programs and departments at ACC, all of which do not necessarily agree with each other as to online course design, practices, evaluations, etc. The Office of Distance Learning will work with representatives from all departments to decide upon those guidelines that best serve students as a whole.

Can instructional departments, faculty, and staff request changes and additions to the ACC Distance Learning Faculty Handbook?

Yes, the ACC Distance Learning Faculty Handbook will be considered a “living document” and subject to revisions each semester. Faculty and staff are encouraged to make requests for revisions to the Distance Learning Committee.

What is Quality Matters and why is it recommended for use in the ACC Distance Learning Faculty Handbook?

It is peer review process designed to certify the quality of online and hybrid courses and online components. Quality Matters is a set of standards based on national standards of best practices, the research literature for course design.

Distance & Alternative Education