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Definitions Adopted by the Distance Learning Committee

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Online Course
Hybrid Course
Telecourses and Other Distance Courses
Regular Effective Contact
Substantially Complete
Instructor Presence

Online Course

[Adopted by the Distance Learning Committee May 12, 2008.]

A course in which 100% of the in-class seat time is replaced by work within the online course site.

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Hybrid Course

[Adopted by the Distance Learning Committee May 12, 2008.]

A Hybrid course for instructional purposes is defined as any course that replaces anything less than 100% regular face-to-face seat time with distance learning. The distance learning portion of the hybrid course must provide for “regular effective contact” as defined by the Academic Senate. The hybrid course requires separate approval of both the Curriculum Committee and the Distance Learning Committee.

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Telecourses and Other Distance Courses

Any non-Internet course in which 100% of the regular in-class seat time is replaced by distance delivery. Some of the requirements that follow may not apply to such courses. Consult the Distance Learning Committee for additional details.

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Regular Effective Contact

[Adopted by the Distance Learning Committee March 25, 2008.]

As per Title V, section 55211(a), all distance learning courses, whether hybrid, fully online, or telecourse, will include “regular effective contact” which Butte College defines as follows:

1. Initiated interaction—

Instructors will regularly initiate interaction with students to determine whether they are accessing, comprehending, and participating in course activities.

2. Frequency—

(a) Since distance learning courses are considered the electronic equivalent of face-to-face courses, the frequency of the contact will be at least the same as would occur in a comparable face-to-face course.

(b) At a minimum, the number of instructor contact hours per week normally available to face-to-face students will also be available, in synchronous or asynchronous mode, to distance learning students.

3. Expectations—

The instructor’s specific policies regarding the frequency and timeliness of instructor initiated contact and feedback will be part of the syllabus or other course documents made available to students at the start of the course.

4. Instructor absences—

(a) If an illness, family emergency, or other unexpected reason prevents the instructor from continuing regular contact, the instructor or department will inform students within the course when regular contact is likely to resume.

(b) In the event of prolonged absence, the instructor will make appropriate arrangements for class continuation.

5. Timely contact—

Online instructors are responsible to respond to students in a timely fashion.

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Substantially Complete

[Adopted by the Distance Learning Committee Sept. 21, 2009.]

Courses presented to the Distance Learning Committee must be “substantially complete.”

A “substantially complete” course is one that could be taught effectively without any further additions and throughout the entire term. (Further additions may be welcome enrichments but are not essential.) “Taught effectively” implies that the course already includes all needed elements for effective student-instructor and student-student interactions and also includes required accommodations for disabled students.

Is My Course “Substantially Complete”?

  • Ask yourself if your course would be ready to teach the entire semester if you stopped development right now. Would you be willing to teach the course “as is” and would you welcome an official online student evaluation at the end of the term?
  • Some elements planned for your course may not yet be in place (such as images or video, or additional quiz questions or Web links you intend to add). The course is not incomplete if you have reading and other assignments, quizzes and discussions, and the presentation content (perhaps a transcript of what you intend to record later) that make up the core of your course. Such a course is “substantially complete.”

 

FAQ

  • Is my course “substantially complete” if I create learning modules for the entire semester but many or most of them are empty (waiting for me to add the various elements)? Wouldn’t the Committee get a good idea of what I intend to do if I just create a few learning modules?

—ANS.: Such a course is not substantially complete. The only way we can tell that your navigation is consistent throughout the term is to see the actual learning modules. Completed learning modules demonstrate opportunities for student-student and student-instructor interactions.

  • Can’t I just show the Committee an outline of the remaining learning modules? Why do I have to have everything in place in advance?

—ANS.: It’s easy to underestimate the time needed to completely develop an online or hybrid course. Technical glitches always seem to arise at the worst possible moments, and it is crucial to deal with them BEFORE the course is submitted to the DLC for approval.

  • But I can finish the rest of the learning modules while I’m teaching the course. Just like with a face-to-face (f2f) course, all I need to do is stay a week ahead of the students!

—ANS.: The online environment is fundamentally different than a f2f class. Online classes function as a "whole," and it is crucial that all elements be developed prior to launching the class. Students immediately seek information on what will be required for the entire semester. A course "under construction" is confusing and incomplete.

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Instructor Presence

[Adopted by the Distance Learning Committee, Butte College Academic Senate, and Butte College Curriculum Committee, Spring 2013]

Instructor presence is defined as lecture materials, commentary, videos, and so on that express what the instructor/designer would say in a comparable f2f class. Instructor presence would also include the same commentary an instructor might provide in a f2f class about textbook reading assignments or other supplementary materials.

This definition is not meant to inhibit faculty innovation in the use of additional resources. But it does mean that “instructor presence” is a minimum requirement and the key question is “is this as comparable as possible to what you do in the f2fclassroom?”

Again, that doesn’t mean transcribed lectures, necessarily; innovative faculty could develop a series of interactive videos to achieve exactly the same end. Some ways of showing “instructor presence” online could in fact be superior to how it might be done in the f2f classroom.

This is Butte College's response to The California Education Code provision (section 55202) that mandates distance courses must have the same quality as comparable f2f courses:

The same standards of course quality shall be applied to any portion of a course conducted through distance education as are applied to traditional classroom courses, in regard to the course quality judgment made pursuant to the requirements of section 55002, and in regard to any local course quality determination or review process. Determinations and judgments about the quality of distance education under the course quality standards shall be made with the full involvement of faculty. ...

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