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Distance Education Advisory Committee (DEAC)

  1. What is the definition for distance education and what are the laws that govern it?

  2. Why is my college pushing for distance learning classes?

  3. I think online classes don’t have the same quality as face-to-face instruction. How do you go about guaranteeing quality?

  4. How should faculty be trained?

  5. How do I go about offering a hybrid or online class?

  6. Is every class going to be offered in hybrid or online mode?

  7. What’s district strategic plan for online learning?

  8. What are the feedback from faculty and students at the state level?

  9. What’s the role the district is playing in expanding hybrid and online learning?

  10. What software application platform has the district chosen to run online courses?

  11. If I have further questions, whom do I call?

 

Q1. What is the definition for distance education and what are the laws that govern it?

Distance education as defined in the California Community Colleges Distance Education Regulations and Guidelines states “Section 55202: Distance education means instruction in which the instructor and student are separated by distance and interact through the assistance of communication technology.” (Page 5). This document further states that when “[…] 51% or more of the time to deliver instruction during the course term and where the student and instructor care separated by distance. Our accrediting commission, ACCJC also concurred with these definitions and has issued specific policies that require “all learning opportunities provided […] have the same quality, accountability […]. This means that “Section 55207: The same standards of course quality shall be applied to distance education as are applied to traditional classroom courses […]” as authorized by Sections 70901 and 66700 of the Ed Code (California Community Colleges Distance Education Regulations and Guidelines, Page 5).

Guidelines and regulations have and will continue to be adhered to by SMCCCD.

Q2. Why is my college pushing for distance learning classes?

Distance education courses have been in existence at our district since early 90s. As tele-courses, faculty would tape their course and KCSM would use the television/cable to transmit the course to students. This mode of operation, although still a reliable way of teaching, is in need of change as the internet has proven to be an effective way of reaching more people and giving them the choice of studying the course materials at the times and locations of their choice.

Further, with over 75% households in our immediate service area having broadband internet access and the working adults who maintain a lifestyle that makes distance learning more attractive to them, the colleges are considering reaching these people beyond regular 100% face to face instruction.

Q3. I think online classes don’t have the same quality as face-to-face instruction. How do you go about guaranteeing quality?

Research in this area is mixed. Quality as defined by success in classes, research showed that it is similar between a traditional class and a distance education class, particularly when the distance education is a hybrid class. The retention rates in distance education courses are lower because the usual larger number of students withdrawing than traditional classes. Also, just as is the case with traditional classes, not all distance education classes are the same and not all students are ready for distance education. As surveys after surveys conducted by the state Chancellor’s Office among the faculty and students, those who have taken distance education courses gave high ratings to the courses and 95% of the students said they would like to take additional courses.

In our district, we need to identify best practices that provide us with the models we can quickly borrow. We need to establish screening methods so that students who are naïve to distance education can have a chance to prepare themselves. The same goes for faculty who are developing and/or teaching a distance education course for the first time. These faculty ought to be trained and oriented in the way the district operates around distance education.

Q4. How should faculty be trained?

Training is very crucial to the success of distance learning, particularly when we realize that most of the instructors have been taught using traditional classroom instruction and technology evolves at a much faster rate than we care to admit. Every faculty member, contract or adjunct will have the opportunity to attend a series of training sessions before they convert their courses to distance education. Those faculty who are in the process of developing distance education courses will be provided technical support, access to a knowledgebase, and when possible, peer support. Funds will be made available for conference attendance.

Q5. How do I go about offering a hybrid or online class?

You should contact your department Dean to inform them of your interest or CTL?

Q6. Is every class going to be offered in hybrid or online mode?

No.

Q7. What is the district's strategic plan for online learning?

The district has formed a Distance Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) whose sole purpose is to develop visions and plans of actions to assess, improve and enhance distance education. Please visit the DEAC website for further updates.

Q8. What is the feedback from faculty and students at the state level?

The district is playing an active role in coordinating efforts in assessing, improving and enhancing distance education. Matters that clearly belong at the district level of coordination include setting standards, selecting a CMS platform and resource allocation, among others. Course approval, curriculum alignment, workload assignment, and other issues belong to the colleges and/or shared governance entities.

Q9. What’s the role the district is playing in expanding hybrid and online learning?

DEAC is responsible for issues common across the colleges. Meanwhile, there are many issues that are unique to the college and need to be handled by an entity on the campus. DEAC will work with these committees on issues of common interest, so as to keep all well informed, activities well coordinated, and to reduce unnecessary duplication of labor.

Q10. What software application has the district chosen to run all the online courses?

The district has not chosen a software application (aka course management system); however, the Distance Education Advisory Committee invited faculty member responses, deans, and VPIs to discuss the merits of a few CMS’s and they decided to go ahead with WebAccess (aka, Moodle), an extremely popular open source program.

Q11. If I have further questions, whom do I call?

For questions relating to offering courses, please contact your departmental Dean or your college’s Office of the Vice President, Instruction.

For questions relating to technology and training, please contact Peter Bruni – District Coordinator, Distance Education/Instructional Design.

For questions relating to district coordination of distance education, please contact the following:

General Inquiries:

Peter Bruni – District Coordinator, Distance Education/Instructional Design

Or

Tania Beliz or Jing Luan (co-chairs of DEAC)

Curriculum Questions:

Co-chairs of the Course Offering Subcommittee

College Curriculum Committee Chairs

Or

College Faculty Senate Presidents

Resource Inquiries:

Co-chairs of the Resources Subcommittee

Or

College Faculty Senate Presidents

Technology Questions:

Co-chairs of the Technology Subcommittee