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Distance Education Courses


According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 42.E.1, there are certain "criteria" to be applied in approving Distance Education (DE) courses. Accordingly, a proposal for offering an existing course via distance education must include a descriptive memo that includes information about those criteria, namely,

1. a qualified instructor who has passed the teaching online certificate course (TOCC).
2. use of suitable technology as a substitute for the traditional classroom
3. suitable opportunity for interaction between instructor and student
4. suitable evaluation of student achievement by the instructor
5. the integrity of the evaluation methods used

APSCUF-KU has determined that a course needs to be approved for Distance Education (DE) only once. Thereafter, that course may offered via DE in any future semester, taught by any qualified faculty, without further approval. Accordingly, here are some suggestions and examples for the five criteria:

  1. Qualified Instructor

    • Describe the instructor’s experience with and qualifications for teaching courses via distance education.
    • The requirement at KU is that all faculty must earn the PASSHE Teaching Online Courses Certificate (TOCC)." 
    • Since the same memo will be used for any instructor who will teach the course via DE any time in the future, the language should be “generic,” not tied to one specific individual who may not be the only one teaching it in future instantiations of the course.
    • Examples:
        • The members of the faculty who teach online courses have received training through their own graduate degree in technology and/or library science. In addition, faculty members have taken training programs via Quality matters, a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. All faculty members have taken workshops through the Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Technologies Center.
        • University faculty members, who have a demonstrated research expertise in American politics as well as those who have extensive experience teaching American politics, will teach the course. Additionally, these members have extensive experience using web-based distance learning software, such as Desire2Learn (D2L) and Blackboard, and have attended conferences/ workshops on best practices for integrating technology into political science courses.
  2. Suitable Technology

    • Describe the technologies that will be used to distribute the course and how they will be used.
    • Examples:
        • The distribution system is the course management application, Desire2Learn. The instructor will utilize functions of D2L such as online quizzes, drop box, podcasts, grade book, discussions, and groups.
        • Students in the course will meet the course objectives through a variety of learning technology including PowerPoint presentations, on-line film, electronic reserves, on-line websites, and on-line learning modules. This course will make use of Discussion Boards as a form of participation. D2L and electronic mail will be the primary means that course information is disseminated and discussed.
        • The distribution system is the course management application, Desire2Learn. Along with asynchronous functions like discussion forums, the instructor will utilize synchronous functions such as chats and the Wimba live video classroom. Other technologies such as podcasts, wikis, and blogs may be integrated into the course.
  3. Interaction between instructor and student

    • Describe exactly how the instructor and students will communicate with each other.
    • Examples:
        • Students will be able to interact with the instructor through discussion forums, live video classroom, and online office hours. Students will be able to interact with each other through discussion forums, live video classroom, small group forums, chat rooms, wikis, blogs, and podcasts.
        • Students will have the opportunity to meet with the professor through face-to-face meetings by appointment. Scheduled chat sessions, in real time, will provide direct, on the spot, interaction.
  4. Evaluation of student achievement

    • Describe how the student's performance will be assessed.
    • Examples:
        • Upon completion of a learning module or activity, students will complete an assignment, exam, structured discussion board dialogue, or paper that will assess their knowledge. Thus, student assessment includes a variety of options including online quizzes and examinations, discussion board postings of substance and written work. All required work has an accompanying rubric used for setting standards and grading purposes.
        • Because of the multimedia capabilities of D2L, students will be assessed by the same assignments and criteria as in a traditional face-to-face classroom. All assignments can be submitted through D2L’s drop box or other Web 2.0 tools set up by the instructor (i.e., wikis, You Tube, etc.)
        • The D2L sit and the e-text with Aplia allow for many evaluation methods. D2L is used for quizzes and several tests and for posting discussion questions for student comment and participation. All of the assignments can be adapted for online delivery and the digital drop box in D2L.
  5. Integrity of the evaluation methods

    • Describe how the instructor will determine that the students are actually completing the assignments and assessments themselves (i.e., not cheating).
    • Examples:
        • D2L allows for exams to be delivered with a time limit and a forced completion option. Due dates can be strictly enforced or adjusted as circumstances warrant. Additionally, papers and assignment submitted to the digital drop box can be checked for plagiarism through Turnitin. Expectations of academic honesty and original authorship will be stated in the syllabus and emphasized at the beginning of the course.
        • All papers, assignments, and exams are unique to this course and do not draw upon test banks or pre-written questions that students could access. Consequently, students will have to participate fully in this course to do well. The D2L Turnitin feature will be used to minimize plagiarism and aids in the specification of when the assignment is available and due.
        • Assigned work is given frequently throughout the course. Typically, the work builds with each assignment. Additionally, students are aware that core assignments will be required as artifacts in a final portfolio. Students submit photos and converse freely wit the instructor and each other; a student’s style is quickly recognized. Assignments are typically particular to a student’s classroom and/or certificate so they tend to be highly individualized. Students are reminded of rules related to Academic Honesty and are required to submit an affirmation statement with their final portfolio.
        • Wimba classroom offers a videoconferencing element that makes it much more difficult for students not enrolled in the course the complete other student's work.
        • As with any traditional composition class, portions of students submissions can be checked for plagiarism through programs such as Turnitin. With the use of Google Wave-like technology, the process of writing is more visible (because of the playback feature of the editing process of documents). This the risk of issues of academic integrity is lower when using these types of platforms than even in standard classrooms.