Distance Learning Task Force

Proposed Administrative Rule to Replace AR# 4.01.001

Subject: Distance Learning Courses and Programs
Based on Board Policy: D-1, Statement of Instructional Philosophy

Administrative Rule

  1. Distance learning activities at Austin Community College will follow Best Practices, including those found in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC) “Distance and Correspondence education policy statement,” as well as standards set forth by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), the Southern Regional Education Board, U.S. Department of Education, and other accrediting bodies such as Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

    Austin Community College does not offer correspondence self-paced education as correspondence education is not eligible for state funding or for students’ participation in the federal financial aid program.

  2. Distance learning courses and programs will be offered and administered in a comparable way to campus-based courses and programs.
    1. Responsibility for offering and administering distance learning courses and programs will be shared between academic and workforce departments, division deans, and the Office of Distance Learning.
    2. Assessment of distance learning courses and programs should be based on comparable criteria to that used for campus-based courses and programs, with specific references to best practices for distance learning.
    3. All faculty who teach distance learning courses are required to have the same minimum academic or professional qualifications as those required of faculty who teach campus-based courses.
  3. Distance learning courses must be approved by the appropriate department chair and dean. Courses must meet established design standards in order to be approved for delivery.
  4. Distance learning programs must be approved by the appropriate department chair, dean, and the vice president of instruction. Departments with approved online programs must offer and maintain enough course sections on the schedule that will enable students to have a predictable path to attain degrees or certificates online.
  5. Faculty who teach distance learning courses will be required to receive initial and ongoing training to support good distance learning practices and effective use of distance learning resources.
  6. Faculty teaching distance learning will be evaluated regarding distance learning courses and practices as part of regular faculty evaluation as described in AR 6.07.001.
  7. Due to federal and Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) requirements for authentication, verification, privacy, and use of appropriate technology, distance learning classes in Austin Community College will be taught using the College approved learning management system. This does not limit use of additional hardware and software for the successful delivery of electronic courses. However, the College approved learning management system must serve as the access point for all course materials and content (FR 4.8.1 of SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation.)
  8. The Distance Learning Faculty Handbook will be maintained by the Office of Distance Learning with input from the Distance Learning Committee. The Distance Learning Faculty Handbook will contain all guidelines and procedures for the design, development, delivery, and assessment of distance learning courses and programs. Requests for changes and additions to the Handbook, by faculty and staff should be made to the chair of the Distance Learning Committee.
  9. The Office of Distance Learning in partnership with instructional departments will provide the general oversight and leadership for distance learning at Austin Community College, and support to ensure quality distance learning courses and programs, good management of distance learning resources; timely review and approval of distance learning courses and programs; analysis of data on distance learning courses, programs, and student outcomes; and compliance with all applicable regulations, laws, and accreditation standards.

Distance Learning & Alternative Learning