Pensacola State College eLearning Handbook

for Faculty and Administrators

Revised, 8/27/2014


Frequently Visited
Angel Development Shell Request Form
eLearning Course Development Process
eLearning Support Request Form
Instructional Software
Request to Develop a Distance Learning Course Form

Contents

 


Introduction

The purpose of this Handbook is to provide faculty, administrators, and staff a single point of reference for all policies, procedures, and guidelines governing eLearning at Pensacola State College.  More specifically, the Handbook is intended to assist department heads and faculty as they plan, develop, teach, and evaluate eLearning courses and programs.

Mission Statement

The mission of eLearning at Pensacola State College is to enhance the teaching and learning process through the judicious use of effective instructional technologies, and to accommodate student needs in terms of time and place.

eLearning Department

Pensacola State College's eLearning activities are managed by the Pensacola State College eLearning Department. The eLearning Department plays a major role in preparing faculty to utilize technology to enhance teaching and learning, and provides regularly scheduled opportunities for relevant training. The Department also assists distance learning students while on campus and off with problems related to course delivery. The eLearning Department is located in the Library on the Pensacola Campus, room 2061-A. (Turn left after entering the building's main entrance and go to the end of the corridor.) 

eLearning Personnel

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.
  • Distance Learning Committee

    Staffed by a diverse body of Pensacola State College employees, the Distance Learning Committee recommends Pensacola State College policies and procedures relevant to distance learning.  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.

    Learning Management System

    To limit the amount of new technology students must master to successfully complete an eLearning course, Angel, a Learning Management System (LMS) has been adopted by Pensacola State College for the online delivery of all distance learning and hybrid courses. This degree of standardization facilitates training and support for faculty and students by providing a consistent instructional and communications interface. If for some reason, an instructor has a problem with the Pensacola State College learning management system, the instructor must schedule a consultation with an Instructional Technologist before using any other system for course delivery.  Please note that the eLearning staff can provide support to those using the Pensacola State College standard only.

    Faculty Training and Resources

    Completion of the "eLearning Basics" course is required for all instructors who intend to use the LMS.  It is the responsibility of all academic department heads to make sure faculty receive this training prior to teaching an eLearning course.  Faculty are not provided access to the Pensacola State College learning management system until the required training is complete.  Training is provided by Pensacola State College Instructional Technologists at regularly scheduled times throughout the semester.  Special training sessions can also be arranged as needed.  Training opportunities (online and face-to-face) can be found on the Staff & Program Development, Inservice Workshop Calendar (See Appendix A.).  The eLearning Department also maintains a small computer lab/media production studio for faculty and staff only.  The “Faculty Media Center” is located in the Library (Room 2054) and provides access to a variety of software and technology unavailable elsewhere on campus. Instructional Technologists are located nearby for assistance as needed.

    Developing a Distance Learning Course

    Although there are exceptions, 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 content and how it will hold up in a distance learning environment.  Once this preliminary step is complete the course development phase for all distance learning and hybrid courses follows a specific process outlined in the document entitled, "eLearning Course Development Process." (See Appendix B.)

    Developing a Hybrid Course

    Hybrid courses may or 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 Pensacola State College distance learning courses. Application to develop a Hybrid course follows the same procedure as required for a distance learning course.

    Compensation for Course Development

    All distance learning and/or hybrid course development should follow the steps outlined in the "eLearning Course Development Process." (See Appendix B.) Department heads may outsource development of a distance learning or hybrid course, and provide fiscal compensation to adjuncts and other non-Pensacola State College 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 Pensacola State College. 

    Compensation for Serving on a Peer Review Team

    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 Pensacola State College.  Department heads have found the process particularly instructive.  2)  The more tangible reward for participation is 2 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.

    Ongoing Review of Distance Learning Courses

    To ensure an ongoing standard of course quality, all Pensacola State College distance learning courses are subject to peer review. The focus of the review is directed toward course structure, navigation, interactivity, and 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.)

    Six-Step Process:

    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.
    6. A report is sent to the Curriculum Council each July (last CC meeting of the year) indicating the PRT activities for the academic year.

    Social Media, External Web Services, and Student Privacy

    Instructors who ask or require students to use a web service that exists outside the password protected area of the Pensacola State College LMS may need to have their students sign an Online Media Release.  To determine whether or not a specific web service falls into this category, instructors should talk to the Director of eLearning or the V.P. of Student Affairs prior to including any such service in their course(s).  For a more specific description of this policy, please read carefully the Online Media Release.  (See Appendix A.) 

    Teaching a Distance Learning Course

    There are several "housekeeping" chores that every eLearning instructor must complete before and after each semester:

  • Before the Semester begins (LMS): At the beginning of each term, instructors must copy their course content into a new course shell. (Instructions on this procedure will be provided each term by the eLearning Department.)  This process should be complete by the first day of classes.  It is the instructor’s responsibility to make sure all course content is available to students by the first day of class. (See Appendix C.)
     
  • Before the Semester Ends (LMS): Instructors are responsible for making backups of their course content. Moreover, all backups should be removed from the LMS and moved to a local storage device (e.g., instructor’s computer, CD, flash drive).  At the end of each term instructors should follow any end of term procedures provided by the eLearning Department to ensure a smooth transition from one semester to the next. (See Appendix C.)
     
  • Additional Requirements: Instructors should read carefully information contained in the Pensacola State College Manual of Procedures (219) for additional information regarding distance learning courses.  (See Appendix A.)
  • Hiring Adjunct Instructors for Distance Learning

    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:

    Course Evaluation

    Evaluation of eLearning courses is very important. Consequently department heads and instructors are encouraged to find ways to ensure that all students complete an evaluation each semester.  Faculty, department heads, and the eLearning Department are also expected to act on the results of all evaluations to ensure continuous improvement of distance learning and hybrid courses and to thoroughly document this part of the process for future SACS accreditation.

    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, Section 18 to make this determination. (See Appendix A.) 

    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 Pensacola State College Manual of Procedures (202) in Appendix A.

    Distance Learning Fees

    Students are charged a distance learning fee for each distance learning course they take. The current fee for all distance learning courses at Pensacola State College 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 also that hybrid courses do not carry this distance learning fee.(See Appendix A.)

    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 document entitled, "Proctoring Procedures for Distance Learning Courses" in Appendix A. for the specifics.

    Academic Integrity

    Student identity is validated through multiple 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. The College Learning Management System (Angel) 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 proctoring tests in Appendix A.  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 the eLearning system 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 Pensacola State, or if you suspect any fraudulent activity in your eLearning courses(s), please contact the Director of the eLearning Department.

    Distance Learning Student Privacy Procedure

    Pensacola State College (PSC) 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 Pensacola State College Distance Learning Student Privacy Procedure, in Appendix A.

    Student Technology Requirements

    The eLearning Department continually monitors state and national trends in eLearning.  Currently, Pensacola State College offers all distance learning courses via the Internet.  Most of our courses utilize equipment and software commonly found pre-loaded on new computers and, in general, otherwise available via free download.  Pensacola State College students are well prepared if they follow the guidelines provided below: 

  • Internet access at a minimum rate of 56 kbps (broadband preferred)
  • Current web browser, Internet Explorer (preferred)
  • Common support software (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Word, Flash Player)
  • Audio capabilities (speakers)
  • Other specialized software that might be required for specific courses
  • Student Orientation to Distance Learning

    All new students who attend the orientation sessions provided by Student Services personnel receive general information regarding eLearning at Pensacola State College.  The Pensacola State College Online Orientation for new students also contains information on eLearning, as does the popular one-credit course entitled "Computer Skills for Academic Success (SLS 1122).  However, the best way for students to get an idea of what a distance learning or hybrid course will be like is to submit a "Course Preview Request" from the eLearning website.  This brief course is a free, non-credit experience designed to familiarize incoming students with the basic functions of the Pensacola State LMS.

    Student Discipline

    Occasionally Pensacola State College instructors are subjected to a disruptive student in the classroom.  This can occur in a traditional face-to-face course or in an eLearning environment. 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:

  • Be aware of all relevant college policies and procedures.
  • Retain all correspondence between instructor and student.
  • 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. (Currently this is the maximum amount of time a student may be denied access to class for any single infraction.)
    3. Report the incident to the appropriate 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 Director of Student Life. Instructions on how to proceed from this point will be provided through the Director of Student Life.

    Student 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. (See "Resources" above.)  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, http://www.ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/Vol5MasterFSAHdbk1213.pdf)

    Student Help Desk

    Information regarding technical assistance for all students using the LMS is available on the eLearning website (https://www.pensacolastate.edu/elearning).

    Faculty Assistance to Students During Off-Duty Hours

    Distance learning faculty often burden themselves with the common misconception that they should be available to students 24/7.  Although it is perfectly acceptable to respond to students during weekends and holidays, it is certainly not required. The important thing is to state a clear policy on this issue at the outset of the course via the section syllabus.

     


    Appendices

     Appendix A.  General Resources

     Appendix B.  eLearning Course Development Resources

    Appendix C.  Instructional Software and Help Files

     

     Readers are encouraged to submit questions and/or suggestions regarding this Handbook
    to the Director of eLearning, bwaters@pensacolastate.edu.