SWGTC Distance Education Policy
The goal of distance education at Southwest Georgia Technical College (SWGTC) is to provide our students the opportunity to access quality instruction anytime, anywhere. Such access is desired to facilitate a barrier-free delivery of instruction through technology. Southwest Georgia Technical College offers a quality technology-based learning environment that is not bound by traditional time and space limitations that provides access for students and meets the education and training needs of the public it serves.
I. Faculty Qualifications
All full-time and part-time faculty teaching distance education courses must meet the same criteria for academic and professional preparation as those teaching courses delivered in traditional modes, according to the Principles of Accreditation (Commission on Colleges/Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). Faculty are given the opportunity and encouraged to develop courses for electronic delivery with the approval and guidance of the Dean for Academic Affairs; however, participation in distance learning activities by faculty must occur on a voluntary basis. Selection of faculty for distance learning delivery takes into consideration their personal interest in instructional innovation, demonstrated ability to adapt instruction to non-traditional or innovative delivery, and their successful record of teaching in the traditional mode, verified through student and supervisory evaluations.
II. Criteria for Selection of Distance Learning Courses/Programs
Prior to distance learning course/program development, faculty must submit a proposal to the Distance Education Coordinator requesting approval for selection that addresses:
- The rationale for selection of course/program (demand for the course/program, enrollment projections, etc.); and
- Any special hardware/software needs or requirements
After review by the Distance Education Coordinator, the proposal will be forwarded to the appropriate Dean, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs for final approval.
III. Faculty Orientation/Staff Development
Faculty training is the key to a successful distance education program. A comprehensive program of staff development for delivery of distance education incorporates training about the modes of delivery; developing, building, effectively delivering, and evaluating distance education instruction; and updating distance education courses using the latest technology, software, etc.
Prior to implementing a web-based course, faculty must participate in training in the use of approved courseware for Internet delivery.
A faculty member developing a course for distance education delivery may be relieved of one class teaching assignments for the purpose of course development and implementation. This reduction in teaching assignments shall terminate with the successful implementation and development of the course. Release time for the development of any given course shall not exceed one semester. The Vice President for Academic Affairs may grant an extension of release time for development purposes when appropriate.
V. Teaching Load and Distance Class Size
A full class size for distance education courses is calculated at a minimum of 10 students. In cases where more than one distance education course is taught (with none having the required 10 enrollment), the total enrollment of the courses may be used to equate to one class for teaching load purposes. Contact hours would be calculated by an average of the combined courses. In this format no more than five preparations can be taught at one time.
VI. Work Schedule
Faculty will allot appropriate time for distance education classes on their class schedule. Faculty members are required to be on campus for distance education classes.
VII. Intellectual Property
The College’s Policies regarding Intellectual Property may be found in the TCSG Policy Manual II.E.1. Intellectual Property Policy.
The College’s Procedures regarding Intellectual Property may be found in the SWGTC Policy Manual II.E.1. Intellectual Property Procedure.
VIII. Library and Other Learning Resources
The unique nature of distance education learning and web-based course delivery presents significant challenges to traditional instructional methodology. Nonetheless, adequate access to learning resources must be provided to students who elect to take courses through distance education. In addition to on campus library collection, Southwest Georgia Technical College utilizes several research databases that can be accessed via the Internet. Faculty who teach distance education classes implement Internet links to these databases as part of their course development. Additionally, the software currently in use at Georgia Virtual Technical Connection and Southwest Georgia Technical College (ANGEL Learning©) provides access to resources related to the distance education course. The Georgia Library Learning On-line (GALILEO) database provides access to other databases that provide a variety of resources for most traditional courses. GALILEO is a major source of information for traditionally and non-traditionally delivered courses. Hyperlinks to GALILEO are implemented into each distance education course offered by Southwest Georgia Technical College.
IX. Student Affairs
Georgia Virtual Technical Connection, the parent organization for Georgia’s technical colleges offering distance education, provides information about each member of the colleges’ Student Affairs department. GVTC provides a ten-hour per day student support service. Additionally, GVTC maintains a current listing located at http://www.gvtc.org/ContactColleges.html of each college’s financial aid director, registrar, and admissions director, which is provided to students should they need to contact the college offering the distance education course. Students may register for on-line courses at the sponsoring college or through GVTC.
GVTC maintains a web site that provides application for admission, course offerings by college, a self-assessment to determine if the student is a good candidate to participate in distance learning, and a listing of the minimum requirements for participating in web-based/distance learning. Students are encouraged to visit the GVTC web site to complete the self-assessment prior to being considered a candidate for a distance education course. GVTC also provides a link to each college so that students may receive additional information, which is not available at the GVTC web site.
X. Evaluation of Instructional Results
Faculty teaching a distance education course must evaluate the course for effectiveness of communication with students, attrition rates and grade distributions, and compare the results with those in traditional on-campus sections of the same course and with all courses taught. When significant discrepancies are found between electronic and traditional on-campus modes of instruction, faculty must investigate further, take corrective action, assess the modifications, and document the changes. Evaluation results and a corrective action plan must be developed, reviewed, and implemented with administrative approval, and must be administered by faculty and used in the faculty evaluation of the course.
Students are able to evaluate distance education courses to assess the usefulness of orientation, quality and appropriateness of instructional content and support materials, availability and responsiveness of faculty, and the clarity of course requirements and deadlines. Evaluation instruments must include items related to the effectiveness of the delivery mode.
SWGTC must demonstrate that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit by verifying the identity of a student who participates in the class or coursework as follows: 1) a secure login and pass code; and 2) by requiring the completion of a minimum of one proctored examination or assignment in each distance education course.
XI. Admission and Graduation Requirements
Students enrolled in distance education courses must meet the same requirements for admission and degree/diploma/TCC completion as students enrolled in campus-based programs. The curriculum of each program must be the same regardless of course delivery mode. The instructional content and academic credit of distance education courses must be equivalent to that of corresponding on-campus courses.
XII. Grading and Transcripts
Policies for academic and work ethics grading and transcripts are the same for distance education courses as for traditional on-campus courses. There should not be any notation on the transcript that identifies a course as delivered via online technology.
The Vice President for Academic Affairs has the overall responsibility for ensuring this policy is implemented.
Revised: 12-5-00; 02-01-05; 05-05-09; 05-04-10; 11-02-10