eLearning Handbook for Faculty and Administrators

eLearning Defined

Pensacola State College has adopted the broad term, “eLearning” to refer to learning activities that utilize electronic technologies in general and the Pensacola State College Learning Management System in particular.  The term includes, but is not limited to, distance learning courses and programs.  The eLearning web site is the focal point of Pensacola State College’s eLearning activities and serves as the gateway to Pensacola State College’s Learning Management System (LMS). All eLearning students should be directed to this site prior to registering for any eLearning course.  Specific modes of eLearning are described below:

  • Distance Learning:   Pensacola State College distance learning courses require no Pensacola State campus visits by the student.  Note, this does not mean that faculty cannot ask students to come to campus for testing, orientation, study sessions, etc.  It does mean that a distance learning course must be designed in a way that makes it possible for students to complete all course requirements from any place in the world.  Note also that instructors do not have to deliver tests online.  Proctoring and/or other assessment venues and techniques are appropriate options.  Distance Learning courses may be identified in the course schedule by the following section numbers:  9500s, 9600s, 9700s, 7100s.  All distance learning courses are currently delivered via the Internet.
  • Hybrid:  Some portion of on-campus instruction is replaced with instruction delivered at a distance (off-campus) usually via the Internet.  Hybrid courses are designed to reduce the number of times a student has to travel to any Pensacola State campus.  For example, section 2486 of ENC 1101 (3 CH) meets on a Pensacola State campus one day a week for 1.5 hours.  The remaining 1.5 hours of instruction are provided at a distance.  Section 2486 is a Hybrid course because it replaces a portion of instruction on a Pensacola State campus with instruction at a distance.  Please note, the number of times a student is required to visit a Pensacola State campus may vary from course to course.  However, the hallmark of a Hybrid course is the fact that some portion of instruction is conducted on a Pensacola State campus.  Hybrid courses may be identified in the course schedule by the following section numbers:  2400s and 7000-7049.
  • Companion Web Sites:   Companion websites are essentially web-based resources used to supplement and support traditional on-campus courses.  They have nothing to do with the number of times a student is required to come to campus for instruction.  A collection of assigned readings, homework, etc., are the kinds of things one might find on a Companion website.  At some point during a course the instructor might instruct his/her students to access this information, but not in lieu of class attendance.

Academic Integrity

Student identity is validated through secure means in order to protect access to, and the use of, academic and financial resources of the College.  Fraudulent use of any college, state, or federal resources by anyone other than the registered student, instructor, or authorized staff member is punishable by criminal prosecution. Canvas provides one barrier to such behavior via user IDs and passwords.  However, it is important to know this level of protection only goes so far. Please review the section on Testing in this handbook. There you will find several tools that will help you securely deliver you assessments to remote locations.  Also, please constantly remind students to log off Canvas when they have completed their work.  This is especially important if they are working in a computer lab.  If you have questions (or ideas) regarding the maintenance of academic integrity at PSC, or if you suspect any fraudulent activity in your eLearning courses(s), please contact the Director of the eLearning Department.

Attendance

Attendance:  For those students enrolled in distance learning courses, participation in the course according to the schedule of events described by the instructor is considered “attendance.”  Students who do not access the class website during the first week of class, take examinations by established due dates, or do not otherwise participate in the distance learning process are subject to withdrawal according to the attendance policies outlined in the College Catalog. Documenting attendance when students are enrolled in distance education courses is especially important in the context of financial aid, and the following guideline should be noted:  “In a distance education context, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student.  A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity, such as by contributing to an online discussion or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a course-related question.” (Information for Financial Aid Professionals, 5-60, 2012-13)

Student Withdrawal:  Due to the fact that distance learning students may not be able to withdraw in person, distance learning students may request a withdrawal via PirateMail. Instructors receiving such requests are to forward the request to the Office of the Registrar or an Adviser to be processed.

Canvas (Learning Management System)

The College has adopted the Canvas a Learning Management System for the online delivery of all eLearning courses. This degree of standardization facilitates training and support for faculty and provides a consistent interface for students. Training is required for all instructors who intend to use Canvas. It is the responsibility of all academic department heads to make sure faculty receive this training prior to teaching an eLearning course.

Class Size

There is no standard number of students that has been determined to be optimal for Pensacola State College distance learning courses.  Department heads and faculty should refer to the information provided in the CBA, Article 18 to make this determination.

Course Development (Compensation)

All distance learning and/or hybrid course development should follow the steps outlined in the “eLearning Course Development Process.” Department heads may outsource development of a distance learning or hybrid course, and provide fiscal compensation to adjuncts and other non-PSC employees upon approval by their respective V.P. However, the option to develop a distance learning course will always be presented to full-time faculty first.  If an offer is not forthcoming from a full-time instructor within a reasonable amount of time, the department may proceed with the necessary steps to outsource course development. Note also, course developers outside the employ of the college must possess the same credentials required of instructors qualified to teach the course at PSC. Compensation for serving on a peer review team is provided in two ways:  1) By serving on a peer review team, faculty (or A/P staff) gain a better understanding of what it takes to design a distance learning course at PSC.  Department heads have found the process particularly instructive.  2) The more tangible reward for participation is two hours of professional development credit.  (Awarded for each separate peer review process.) When serving on a peer review team be sure to remind the IT heading up the team to forward evidence of your participation to the SPD Office upon completion of the process.

Course Development (Process)

Most any college credit course may be taught in a distance learning format.  However, prior to course development careful consideration must be given to the nature of the course and how it might hold up in an eLearning environment. Once this preliminary step is complete, the course development phase for all distance learning and hybrid courses follows a specific process, including a peer review. Hybrid courses may not be required to undergo the formal peer review process. However, as hybrid courses share some of the characteristics of distance learning courses, and most often incorporate elements of instructional technology that require mastery of certain skills and knowledge of unique pedagogical competencies, hybrid course development must be carried out in the company of a supporting Instructional Technologist. During the development process it will be determined whether or not the distance learning component is significant enough to warrant a full peer review. This requirement will ensure that the distance learning portion of a hybrid course will remain consistent with current practice as it relates to PSC distance learning courses. Application to develop a Hybrid course follows the same procedure as required for a distance learning course. The process is provided in the document entitled, “eLearning Course Development Process.”

Course Review (Peer Review)

As of fall 2016 all Pensacola State College distance learning courses are subject to peer review to ensure an ongoing standard of course quality. The focus of the review is directed toward course structure, navigation, interactivity, accessibility, and other items relevant to the delivery of the course rather than course content per se. Every August a standing peer review team (PRT) of 3-4 members is formed (including one Instructional Technologist).  Each member of the team serves for two consecutive semesters and receives 6 hours of professional development credit at the end of the spring semester. Course reviews continue year-to-year on a revolving basis. (An ad hoc PRT may be formed during the summer months to continue review work.) The process works like this:

  1. The PRT is given online access to selected distance learning courses for private review.  (A request for cooperation from the Director of eLearning to the course instructor is always preliminary to PRT access.)
  2. The PRT meets two weeks later to determine any need for revision.
  3. If no revisions are necessary the procedure ends and the instructor and relevant department head will be notified by the Director of eLearning.
  4. If revisions are necessary the course developer will work with an assigned IT to make the recommended improvements.
  5. Upon completion of the recommended improvements the department head will be notified and the course may be added to the schedule. If not approved, the course may be pulled from the schedule pending revision.

Distance Learning Fee

Students are charged a distance learning fee for each distance learning course they take. The current fee for all distance learning courses at PSC is $8.33 per credit hour.  Note that an additional fee may be assessed when a course requires the purchase of unique software or licensing agreement.  For example, when the college pays a license fee for commercial content used in a specific course, students enrolled in that course may be required to help fund the purchase of the license. The Distance Learning Additional Fee Justification Form must be completed and approved before this additional fee can be required.  Note, hybrid courses do not carry this distance learning fee.

eLearning Committee

Staffed by a diverse body of Pensacola State College employees, the eLearning Committee is charged with supporting the Director of eLearning with the formulation of Pensacola State College policies and procedures relevant to distance learning and related areas. Members are selected at the beginning of each term from a pool of interested employees by the Director of eLearning and the chairperson of the committee. The committee meets monthly from September to May.  Pensacola State College faculty and staff directly or indirectly associated with distance learning are encouraged to join the group.  The Director of eLearning serves and the Administrative Liaison for the eLearning Committee.

Hiring Adjunct Instructors

When the candidate is a local resident the hiring process is no different than the current process for hiring on-campus instructors. However, when hiring an adjunct who resides outside the local area (or outside the state of Florida) there are a few things to consider:

  • Pensacola State College cannot hire an adjunct instructor who is a legal resident of North Dakota, Ohio, Washington State, or Wyoming.
  • The department head should contact Human Resources to work out the logistics of the background check.
  • Please check with the Director of eLearning early in the process to determine what training the new adjunct will require.

Department heads may contact the Director of eLearning for assistance in locating a qualified instructor.

Orientation (Faculty)

Completion of the “Canvas Basics Online Training” course is required for all instructors who intend to use the eLearning system (Canvas).  It is the responsibility of all academic department heads to make sure faculty receive this training prior to teaching an eLearning course.  Faculty will not be given access to the PSC eLearning system until the required training is complete. Click here to enroll in the CBOT.

Orientation (Students)

All new students who attend the orientation sessions provided by Student Services personnel receive general information regarding eLearning at PSC. The College also offers a popular one-credit course entitled “Computer Skills for Academic Success (SLS 1122) that includes information on eLearning at PSC. However, the most thorough introduction to eLearning at PSC is the “Student Orientation Course” developed by the eLearning Department. This course is delivered completely online, in Canvas, and students may enroll at no cost. Students may begin the course at any time.

State Authorization

Recent activity at the federal and state levels has prompted U.S. colleges and universities to comply with authorization requirements in each state to which they deliver instruction. Currently, Pensacola State College is authorized to provide distance learning courses and programs to students in selected states only.  For a complete list of these states please click here. Should a student feel the need to lodge a complaint regarding any PSC eLearning course that cannot be resolved through services offered by PSC, students may extend their grievance to their home state. Click here to obtain contact information for the appropriate resource outside Florida.

Student Discipline

Disruptive behavior has been defined as “individual or group conduct of a nature that interrupts or interferes with educational activities, infringes upon the rights and privileges of others, results in the destruction of property, or is otherwise prejudicial to the maintenance of order.”  In general eLearning instructors should follow these guidelines when dealing with a disruptive student:  1) Be aware of all relevant college policies and procedures,  2) Retain all correspondence between instructor and student, 3) Report the incident to the appropriate department chair. More specifically, there are five steps an eLearning instructor should take to address this kind of issue: 1) Ask the student to cease all disruptive activity,  2) Inform the student that continued disruptive behavior will result in denied access to the course for 24 hours,  3) Report the incident to the appropriate academic department head,  4) If the student continues to disrupt the class suspend his/her access to the course for 24 hours,  5) If these steps fail to permanently resolve the issue, the instructor may bring formal charges of misconduct to the Office of Student Conduct.

Student Privacy

Pensacola State College is committed to protecting the privacy of its distance learning students. Under the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, a distance learning student’s academic files at PSC will not be released to any third party without the written consent of the student. All state and federal laws and regulations, and PSC regulations and policies concerning the privacy of student records, shall apply with equal force and effect to distance learning student records.  For additional information please consult the PSC Distance Learning Privacy Procedure.

Testing

All distance learning courses must accommodate students who wish to be tested at an off-campus location.  Proctoring is an option available to ensure the integrity of the testing procedure.  However, note that Pensacola State College Testing Centers do not make arrangements for proctored tests at off-campus locations.  Please consult the following documents for details:

Textbooks

Distance learning courses may use a different textbook than the corresponding on-campus section of the same course.  However, “consensus must be reached regarding said selection with the same text being used for all distance sections.”  See the PSC Manual of Procedures (202).

Training Opportunities for Faculty

Training is provided by Pensacola State College Instructional Technologists at regularly scheduled times throughout the year. Special training sessions can also be arranged as needed. The current schedule of  training opportunities (online and face-to-face) is provided on the SPD Inservice Workshop Calendar. The eLearning Department also maintains a small computer lab/media production studio for faculty and staff only. This “Faculty Media Center” is located in the Library (Room 2054) and provides access to a variety of software and technologies unavailable elsewhere on campus. Instructional Technologists are located nearby for assistance as needed.