Distance Education vs. Online Education
At Palomar College, when we refer to Distance Education it most often means the same thing as Online Education. While there are other ways to teach at a distance (e.g. a correspondence course) most of our DE classes are Online Education classes given over the Web using Canvas.
Title 5 spells out specific things that you must do when conducting an online class.
Instructor to Student Interaction Contact:
Any portion of a course conducted through distance education will include instructor-initiated, regular effective, substantive-interaction contact between instructor and students either synchronously or asynchronously, through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, voicemail, e-mail, or other activities.
In short, you gotta talk to each other.
Not only does an instructor need to talk to their students, they need to initiate contact with the students on a regular basis. An instructor can not just wait for the students to ask questions.
Student to Student Interaction Contact:
Faculty will ensure ongoing regular and effective student-to-student contact. Best practices include, but are not limited to, implementing communication means for varied types of interaction in the course design, assigning and monitoring weekly assignments and projects that promote collaboration among students, posing questions in the discussion boards that encourage critical thinking skills and promote interaction, and monitoring student engagement to ensure that students participate with depth.
Students must be required to interact with other students.
Just having a discussion board where students could talk with each other is not enough to meet the requirement. There needs to be some mechanism built-in to your course that promotes student-to-student interaction. For example, having a graded discussion question where the student must post an answer to a question you pose and then reply to one or more of the answers given by the other students.
Interaction is Required in the Online Portion of a Hybrid Class
If you are teaching a hybrid class (part face-to-face and part online) the instructor-to-student and the student-to-student interaction must be built in to the online portion of the class. This is something that will be looked for at Accreditation time.
Other Title 5 Distance Education Requirements
Course Quality Standards
The same standards of course quality shall be applied to any portion of a class conducted through distance education as are applied to in-person classes, 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 in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 2 (commencing with section 53200) of chapter 2.
Separate Course Approval
The same standards of course quality shall be applied to any portion of a class conducted through distance education as are applied to in-person classes. Determinations and judgments about the quality of distance education under the course quality standards shall be made with the full involvement of faculty.
When course in our Curriculum Management System (META) is proposed to be taught as a Distance Education course it must be reviewed and approved using the criteria described in the Distance Education page. The same review and approval must take place any time the course is up for review.
Faculty Selection and Workload
- Instructors of course sections delivered via distance education technology shall be selected by the same procedures used to determine all instructional assignments.
- Instructors shall possess the minimum qualifications for the discipline into which the course’s subject matter most appropriately falls
- Instructors of distance education shall be prepared to teach in a distance education delivery method consistent with local district policies and negotiated agreements. At Palomar College that means meeting the Faculty Online Certification criteria described in AP 4105 (next page)
- The number of students assigned to any one course section offered by distance education shall be determined by and be consistent with other district procedures related to faculty assignment. See the PFF contract for details on class sizes.
- Nothing in this section shall be construed to impinge upon or detract from any negotiations or negotiated agreements between exclusive representatives and district governing boards.