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ONLINE INSTRUCTION GUIDELINES

I Definition

Online (asynchronous) Instruction includes courses which can be taken by a student and given by an instructor from any location with a broadband internet connection and which do not require the student to be online at a certain time of day, with no requirement for face-to-face contact. An exception may be made for proctored testing or special instances due to course content and design. The design, development, and delivery of online courses involves pedagogy, strategies and technologies which may vary drastically from traditional classrooms.

II Procedures for New Online Course Development

Faculty members (adjunct or full-time) who wish to develop and/or teach an online course must follow the following procedures:

  1. A written proposal must be submitted for approval by the program facultyand Division Dean according to the Curriculum Committee Guidelines. Courses proposed for online delivery will also require approval of the Curriculum Committee or approval of a pilot course by the Provost, before the course is taught.
  2. Faculty members may consult with the Coordinator of Online Education. (Deadlines for new courses: January 15 for Fall courses, April 15 for J-Term courses, August 15 for Spring courses, December 15 for Summer courses)
  3. The instructor will contact the Coordinator upon approval by the Curriculum Committee (Timeline: within 2 weeks of receiving the approval) or Provost.
  4. Upon notification by the Curriculum Committee or Provost, the Coordinator will contact the faculty member with information on course development and training. (Timeline: within 2 weeks of receiving approval)
  5. If this is the first online course proposed by the faculty member, he/she must complete the required training described below. Training can be taken in conjunction with the development of the online course.
  6. The faculty member will work in conjunction with the Coordinator of Online Education for all online course development and agreed upon design revisions until the course is ready for delivery. A first draft of the course should be prepared and shared with the Coordinator of Online Education a minimum of 1 month prior to the start of the semester in which the course will be taught online, and revisions should be ready a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the semester in which students will begin taking the course online.
  7. All course development must be original with the faculty member. The College does not wish to, nor will it, defend copyright infringements.
  8. Payment for initial online course development will be at the time the course development is completed according to section VIII - Online Development Standards and final revisions are acceptable to both instructor and Coordinator of Online Education.

III Training Requirements for New Instructors

The semester prior to teaching online for the first time, the faculty member must attend scheduled training sessions (approximately 3 days of training) conducted by SUNY Delhi's Coordinator of Online Education to receive pedagogical training and familiarize themselves with Moodle/Vancko Hall (or any other approved college platform). Training sessions, when necessary, will be delivered online. All training sessions must be completed during the term prior to the first semester teaching online.

IV  Training for Experienced Instructors

Active online instructors are strongly encouraged to attend at least one professional development seminar or staff development workshop, conducted or sanctioned by the Coordinator of Online Education.) These seminars will focus on pedagogy and the platform, rather than be discipline focused.

For courses in which students and/or the faculty member are experiencing difficulty (e.g. low retention rates), the Coordinator of Online Education will work with the instructor to enhance the aspects of the course that need improvement.

V  Compensation for Online Course Development and Teaching

Instructors will be paid extra service for teaching online courses (minimum of $733.33 per lecture credit hour), unless the course is part of their normal load. In addition, instructors will receive a $2,000 stipend to develop and teach a three credit online course (equivalent to $666.67 per lecture credit hour), if this is the first time the course has been placed online, unless online course development is part of the faculty member's normal load. If the class does not run due to factors not involving the instructor, the Course Developer will still receive the $2,000 stipend, unless online course development is part of the faculty member's normal load. Once a course is developed for the internet, regardless of the platform (i.e., Moodle/Vancko Hall or other), it no longer qualifies for payment of development in another internet format.

When an instructor is paid to develop an online course, SUNY Delhi reserves the right to future use of the archived course, as well as to have other instructors teach using the online course materials. The original Course Developer shall retain the right to access and utilize any of the material included in the online format at any time in the future regardless of whether they are currently teaching the course. The dean will not schedule a faculty member to teach more than one online class per semester, unless otherwise agreed upon by the faculty member, dean and Provost.

VI  Online Course Evaluations

The Coordinator of Online Education can administer a student survey anytime to determine whether the technical aspects of the course are satisfactory; e.g., did students have trouble logging in? Did the help desk respond quickly to their questions?

Administration of anonymous student evaluations for each class and instructor will follow the current policy for evaluations. Delhi's full-time and adjunct faculty may share the results with their division deans, and are encouraged to do so. Adjuncts who teach only online must administer an anonymous student evaluation for each class, share the results with the division dean, and use a divisional approved student evaluation form.

Deans and/or their designee will also evaluate the class by logging on and observing the class. When possible, evaluators should be faculty who have online teaching experience. Class evaluation by dean and/or designee will normally be scheduled for every other year.

VII  Evaluation Forms

Evaluation Forms are in development.

Please also refer to the eLearning Maturity Model

VIII  Online Development Standards

PURPOSE: The purpose of the Online Standards for Course Development for Delhi Online Education (DOE) is to provide a set of guiding principles for instructors who teach online. The standards focus on learning outcomes, elements that comprise a DOE course and guidelines for quality online instruction.

GOAL: The goal of DOE is to provide instruction, resources, and technical support to enhance learning and improve student outcomes. The shared use of a common technical infrastructure and course delivery will enable students to complete all or part of the requirements for a degree or certificate program, or to achieve specific learning objectives in a learner-centered environment supported by distance learning technologies.

To ensure that all DOE learning activities meet the stated goal and to maintain quality and consistency among online courses, the elements of a DOE course and instructional quality guidelines for instructors who develop and/or teach online courses are provided below:

  • The majority (if not all) of the course requirements and instructor-student communications are completed using the Internet.
  • Activities normally described as on-campus are limited or not required.
  • The course will utilize a DOE course template, provided by the Coordinator of Online Ed. This template will provide the basic underlying structure of a course to establish a consistency among courses. Instructors can then edit the course content to fit their needs. The template would include an orientation to the tools used in online courses.
  • Course Homepage must contain course name, number, start/end dates, and instructor's contact information and office hours
  • Course Homepage must contain "What to do First" or "How to Get Started" statement
  • Unused tools must be hidden or deleted
  • Course must contain an Orientation:** A tour of the online learning environment which goes over each tool that will be used in the course, showing navigation and how to get around in the Learning Management System
  • All courses will use the SUNY Delhi Uniform Course Syllabus which must be included within the course, and includes:** Course objectives and the measurement criteria for each course objective
    • Minimum requirements such as attendance at on-campus sessions, written assignments, examinations, grading criteria, etc.
    • Technical requirements such as Internet access, browser, plugins, computer capabilities, etc.
    • Required texts/readings.
    • Detailed information concerning assignments and due dates.
    • Dates of required examinations.
    • Detailed information on how to contact the instructor (e-mail, fax, telephone, instant messaging, etc.).
  • All downloadable documents will be in a file format accessible to all types of computer users (RTF, PDF, etc. as opposed to DOC)

Interactivity:  Students must be involved in a variety of activities that involve the student in interactive exchanges between other students and between the student and the teacher. Interactive involvement should constitute a significant portion of the course structure. Student interactivity in a three-credit DOE course should be equivalent to at least 45 hours of face-to-face classroom discussion. Interactivity in a DOE course can be accomplished in one or more of the following ways:

  • Threaded Discussion. A discussion is started around a topic and the participants respond to the topic and to comments made by the others.
  • Instant Messaging - either within an LMS or using a common instant messenger
  • Learning Management System internal mail - such as an internal mail messaging
  • E-mail. A critical component for private communications between students and faculty and for delivery of written assignments, critiques and testing.
  • Chat Room. (A synchronous activity): students are required to join and participate together at a fixed time.
  • Other. Audio message board, blogs, wikis, recorded lectures, podcasts, voice mail, telephone, interactive whiteboard, collaborative group activities using any previously mentioned technologies.

Presentation Strategies:  DOE courses need to be multi-modal by design and should contain more than one of the following instructional methods:

  • Text lessons with supporting images and/or charts, tables, graphs as well as corresponding audio.
  • Videotaped Elements. Video elements may be produced to support a course or copyrights secured to allow the use of commercial materials. Videotaped materials can be distributed to students via the internet as part of the course package. Video elements need to be captioned and copyright restrictions must be observed and followed. Instructors can create their own videotaped elements or screencasts using screen-recording software.
  • Interactive Elements. Activities that involve computer-assisted instructional elements or multi-media presentations can be included; however, both delivery and development must be considered. Size should not be too large and the presentation must be in a format that is accessible to all.
  • Text presentations (such as PowerPoint) should include audio narration.
  • Audio Materials.
  • External Links - including guided learning activities and assessments
  • Textbooks and Study Guides. Texts with a unifying study guide, either electronic or printed, can be a core part of any distance education course. Electronic publishing or text information is an alternative to hard copy distribution. Copyright restrictions must be observed and followed.
  • Courses are designed to require students to engage in analysis, syntheses, and evaluation as part of course and program requirements.
  • Learning activities are designed to fit teaching/learning requirements and clearly defined learning outcomes.
  • Course content, instructional methods, technologies and context complement each other.
  • Outcomes address content mastery and increased learning skills.
  • Students with skills in subject matter, instructional methods, and technologies work collaboratively to create learning opportunities.
  • Instructional offerings are evaluated on a regular basis for effectiveness; evaluation results are utilized for improvement.
  • Classroom materials developed by third parties, such as publishers or course cartridges, will be evaluated by the same standards as materials developed by system instructors.

Teaching/Learning:

  • Student interaction with faculty and other students is an essential characteristic and is facilitated through a variety of ways including voice-mail and/or email.
  • Feedback to student assignments and questions is constructive and provided in a timely manner.
  • Students are instructed in the proper methods of effective research, including assessment of the validity of resources.
  • Students understand expectations of learner activities.
  • Assessment methods used are appropriate to the course and learning methods employed.
  • The learning experience is designed and organized to increase the learner's control over the time, place, and pace of instruction.
  • Learning activities and modes of assessment are responsive to the needs of individual learners.
  • Learners have easy access to up-to-date grade info using an online gradebook.
  • General education courses must have assignments that can be used to assess the extent to which students have satisfied gen ed outcomes.
  • Instructor must send a "Welcome Letter" to all enrolled students containing information about logging on and required course materials at least two weeks prior to the start of the course. A sample welcome letter will be located on the DOE web site.

Accessibility:  The college will be responsible for acting in a timely manner to make curriculum, materials, or other resources used in a DOE course available to students with disabilities, unless doing so would significantly alter the nature of the instructional activity.

  • Print Material. Provide alternatives to print material including Braille, large print, audiotape, digital sound files and e-text.
  • World Wide Web. Content developers should make content understandable and navigable. This includes making the language clear and simple as well as providing understandable mechanisms for navigating within and between pages. Providing navigation tools and orientation information in pages will maximize accessibility and usability. Not all users can make use of visual clues such as image maps, proportional scroll bars, side-by-side frames, or graphics that guide sighted users of graphical desktop browsers. Users also lose contextual information when they can only view a portion of a page, either because they are accessing the page one word at a time (speech synthesis or Braille display), or one section at a time (small or magnified display). Without orientation information, users may not be able to understand very large tables, lists, menus, etc.
  • All courses should be designed for compliance with Section 508 accessibility regulations

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Institutional Support

How Online Education is supported at SUNY Delhi:
An overall plan of institutional support must be in place, with separate responsibilities carried by DOE. Technology, course development, course structure, student support, faculty support, and program evaluation are all critical parts of the online instructional environment that must be addressed and supported by DOE:

Institutional Support

  • SUNY Delhi has a documented technology plan - including current and future plans for infrastructure, networking, wireless access, email and communications, Learning Management Systems, telecommunications, student information services, servers, classroom technologies, etc.
  • The technology delivery system is as fail-safe as possible.
  • A centralized system provides support for building and maintaining the distance education infrastructure.

DOE Technology

  • DOE will ensure that coordination of online learning activities is consistent with the overall mission of the college, and that policies regarding online education are integrated into the college's overall policy framework.
  • DOE will, in collaboration with the college, develop a plan that ensures the financial and administrative commitment to maintain online learning programs through completion, and to support faculty and learner services necessary to ensure a successful learning environment.
  • DOE will work in collaboration with other college services to ensure that administrative and student support systems such as registration, advising and assessment, are compatible with learning delivery systems that provide a successful learning environment.
  • DOE will facilitate research and development of online education and will maintain a systematic evaluation of the content, process, and support systems involved in distance learning activities.
  • DOE will work with the college to ensure that every effort is made to utilize the best available resources for supporting online education professional development for faculty and support staff.
  • DOE will continue to ensure that policies, management practices, learning design processes, and operational procedures for distance learning are regularly evaluated for effectiveness and currency.

College Support Systems

  • DOE initiatives are backed by a system-wide commitment to quality and effectiveness in all aspects of the learning environment.
  • Technologies and learning systems employed assure the integrity and validity of the information shared in the learning activities and ease of use by the learners.
  • Technology systems are fully accessible, understandable to learners, and can support the learning goals.
  • The technologies used for learning, through training, assist learners as well as faculty and staff to understand their etiquette, as well as to acquire the knowledge and skills to manipulate and interact with them and to understand the objectives and outcomes that the technologies are intended to support.
  • The technology meets the needs of the learners and learning facilitators for presenting information, interacting within the learning community, and gaining access to learning resources.
  • Participating divisions will work to ensure that the realization of learning outcomes will be consistent for both distant learners and on-campus students.

Course Structure

  • Students are advised about online learning so they can determine if they
        o Possess self-motivation and commitment to learn at a distance
        o Have access to minimal technology required by course design
  • Students are provided with supplemental course information that outlines course objectives, concepts and ideas. Learning outcomes for each course are summarized in a clearly written, straightforward statement.
  • Students have access to sufficient library resources that may include a virtual library accessible through the Internet.
  • Faculty and students agree upon expectations regarding time for student assignment completion and faculty response.

Student Support

  • Students receive information about programs, including admission requirements, tuition and fees, books and supplies, technical and proctoring requirements, and student support services.
  • Students are provided with hands-on training and information to aid them in securing material through electronic databases, interlibrary loans, government archives, news services, and other sources.
  • Throughout the duration of the course/program, students have access to technical assistance, including detailed instructions regarding the electronic media used, practice sessions prior to the beginning of the course, and convenient access to technical support staff.
  • Questions directed to student service personnel are answered accurately and quickly, with a structure system in place to address student complaints.
  • Support systems are reviewed regularly to ensure their currency and effectiveness.
  • Distance learning opportunities are available to learners through a variety of fully accessible modes of delivery and resources.
  • A learner support system to assist the learner in using the resources is provided. This system includes technology and technical support, site facilitation, library and information resources, advising, counseling, and problem-solving assistance.
  • Course development models and support services consider the needs of the learner in relation to the learning mode(s) used and make provision for delivery of appropriate resources based on the design of the learning activities, the technology involved, and the needs of the learner.
  • Access to support services, such as scheduling, registration and library resources, is convenient, efficient, and responsive to learner needs as well as consistent with the aim of providing learning at a distance.
  • Distance learning activities provide to the learner all information pertinent to the learning opportunity, such as course prerequisites, modes of study, evaluation criteria and technical needs.

Faculty Support

  • Technical assistance in course development is available to faculty, who are encouraged to use it.
  • Faculty members are assisted in the transition from on-campus classroom teaching to online instruction, and are assessed during the process.
  • Instructor training and assistance continues through the progression of the online course.
  • Faculty members are provided with written resources to deal with issues arising from student use of electronically accessed data.

Evaluation and Assessment

  • The program's educational effectiveness and teaching/learning process is assessed through an evaluation process that uses several methods and applies specific standards.
  • Data on enrollment, costs, and successful or innovative use of technology are used to evaluate program effectiveness.
  • Intended learning outcomes are reviewed regularly to ensure clarity, utility and appropriateness.
  • Distance learning programs organize learning around demonstrable learning outcomes, assist the learner to achieve those outcomes, and assess learner progress by reference to those outcomes.
  • Course design enables individual learners to help shape learning outcomes and how they are achieved.
  • Learning outcomes are described in observable, measurable, and achievable terms.
  • Instructional design is consistent with and shaped to achieve the intended learning outcomes.
  • Online learning technologies and delivery systems are used in a way that facilitates the achievement of intended learning outcomes.
  • Learning outcomes are assessed in a way that is relevant to the content, the learner's situation, and the distance learning systems employed.
  • Assessment of learning is timely, appropriate, and responsive to the needs of the learner.

Documents used in developing the Standards for Course Development and Elements Comprising a DOE Course:

Principles of Good Practice for Electronically Offered Academic Degree and Certificate Programs, Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications. http://www.wiche.edu/telecom/principles.htm

Quality Learning Principles and Distributed Education: Notes From a Retreat, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and the Communications Technology Center, Palisades Retreat Center, January 1997.

Guiding Principles for Distance Learning in a Learning Society, The Center for Adult Learning and Educational Credentials, American Council on Education. http://www.acenet.edu/programs/CALEC/Guides&Principles/distlearn.html

Distance Education: Guidelines for Good Practice May 2000; this report was prepared by the Higher Education Program and Policy Council of the American Federation of Teachers.

Quality on the Line - Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education, National Education Association, April 2000 - Prepared by: The Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1320 - 19th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20036

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, W3C Recommendations 11-March-2004. http://www.w3.org/TR/2004/WD-WCAG20-20040311/

Distance Education: Access Guidelines for Students with Disabilities, August 1999. Developed by The High Tech Center Training Unit in Collaboration with the Distance Education Accessibility Workgroup, Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges.http://www.htctu.fhda.edu/dlguidelines/final%20dl%20guidelines.htm

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  1. Nov 10, 2009

    Just want to tag this document with a note that it does not include peer review as part of the guidelines for development of new online courses, nor mention of an evaluative rubric to use for peer review as part of the process of online course approval.

    Furthermore, it doesn't address what guidelines or tool to use for online class visitation/observation (as happens in face-to-face courses annually) nor the on-going evaluation and revision of courses on a periodic basis.