On-line Procedures

This is a collection of procedures that should be followed by Concordia College students, faculty and staff to provide a productive learning experience in on-line and web enabled courses at Concordia College Alabama.

Faculty Handbook for On-line Teaching

Welcome to On-line Learning [edit]

Welcome to On-line Learning at Concordia College Alabama. This On-line Learning Handbook is intended to serve as a reference guide for faculty teaching on-line classes completely in a virtual classroom the Hornet Educational Learning Platform (HELP) which is Concordia's on-line course environment based on Moodle.

Concordia College offers on-line courses in a learning centered environment that fulfills the same objectives, meet the same outcomes, and are assessed with the same rigor as face-to-face courses. Just as face-to-face courses observe standards appropriate to that mode, on-line courses observe the guidelines and standards defined in this document. Specifically, this Handbook is designed to assist faculty in developing and teaching on-line classes. This Handbook supplements but does not replace Concordia College Faculty Handbook.

Mission Statement [edit]

Concordia College Mission

The mission of Concordia College is to prepare students through Christ-centered education for lives of responsible and effective service in the church, community, and the world.

On-line Learning Mission

The mission of on-line learning at Concordia is to help provide students with educational opportunities outside the traditional classroom in an anytime, anywhere environment that meets the standards and Christian commitment of Concordia College.

General Information about On-line Learning [edit]

Principles

On-line learning at Concordia adheres to the following principles:

  1. Faculty members are expected to use the HELP on-line course management system to deliver their course content.

  2. Faculty members are ultimately responsible for the integrity of on-line learning content and delivery.

  3. Concordia College will provide faculty members with the necessary resources to deliver quality on-line courses.

  4. Curriculum content developed for on-line delivery must fit the on-line learning format and should have a defensible rationale for using such materials.

  5. Class sizes for on-line learning will be appropriate to the available course format.

Definitions

Asynchronous On-line Classes:
Faculty members provide materials, lectures, tests, and assignments that may be accessed at any time. Students are usually given a time frame during which they need to access the course and to submit assignments.
Hornet Educational Learning Platform
Concordia uses Moodle as the basis on which it develops its on-line course system. The site used by Concordia faculty and students is referred to as Hornet Educational Learning Platform or the HELP. It is completely web-based so that faculty may develop classes on any computer with access to the Internet.
Face-to-face Course
A face-to-face course conducts all class sessions on campus in a synchronous manner. Face-to-face courses may use Web resources as supplements to other course materials.
Hybrid/Blended Course
A hybrid/blended course has flexible learning formats to enhance student learning. It may include an in-class component, but the format may differ from a face-to-face course by using flexible class meeting times, on-line components, and/or other delivery modalities (such as video, cable media, and others).
On-line Course
An on-line course provides all instruction in an asynchronous manner and has no required on-campus components, with the exception of proctored assignments when applicable. Normally courses without proctored exams are limited to students that are admitted to their major program at Concordia and have been resident at Concordia for a previous semester.
Plagiarism
An academic offence whereby writers use others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of the information.
Synchronous On-line Classes
Students and instructors are required to be on-line at the same time. Lectures, discussions, and presentations occur at a specific hour. All students must be on-line at that specific hour in order to participate.
Turnitin
The college subscribes to the anti-plagiarism service called Turnitin. With this service, student papers may be submitted to be compared against several different resources for originality. Reports can also be generated for grammar and style. In the HELP, Turnitin is accessed simply by creating an assignment and enabling options for Turnitin. Alternatively, instructors may establish account and turnitin.com by contacting the Ellwanger—Hunt Learning Resource Center director.

Computer Requirements

Concordia provides computer access to students on its campus in the Wright complex, STAARS building, and in the Learning Resource center. Students participating in an on-line course in other locations are responsible for ensuring they have access to suitable resources. Participation will require a computer with a updated web browser installed on it (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome). Some courses may require the use of Microsoft Office, Java, Flash or other software packages. Instructors need to post all additional software requirements at the start of the course along with any other required course materials such as textbooks or access codes. Any special requirement needs at the same time books are ordered for the semester.

Academic Guidelines

Calendar and Course Credits

On-line courses will follow the same academic calendar as the face-to-face classes. On-line courses will be available for on the first day of classes as listed on the academic calendar for students that have preregistered. Students who register late may not be able to access the course immediately and may be penalized by the instructor for not completing the initial assignments.

On-line courses will receive the same credit as face-to-face courses.

Course Development

On-line student learning outcomes will be equivalent to those of the same course taught face-to-face and will be assessed as such. Faculty members have the responsibility for the quality of all content and the delivery of the course. Faculty are responsible for getting permission for use of copyrighted materials in the courses that they teach.

On-line learning courses should include learner-centered strategies which help keep students actively engaged. Learning activities may include problem-based as well as knowledge-based activities which involve higher order thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation in addition to mere recall and command application.

Access to Courses

Faculty members will be given access a course upon their request. Ideally this should be done as soon as they are assigned to teach an on-line course or when they begin a training program in on-line teaching. To request creation and access to a course, instructors first need to obtain campus email access from the IT department. Afterwards they may use their email username and password to access the HELP and should send a message to the the HELP administrator indicating which courses they have been assigned to teach.

Student Performance Assessment

Assessment of student learning outcomes is an essential part of on-line learning. Results of student learning outcomes will be used to drive decision making regarding course improvement.

Faculty [edit]

Faculty Qualifications

Subject qualifications

On-line faculty developing and teaching courses will have to meet the same academic qualifications as instructors in face to face classes. Faculty will normally be recruited by the division responsible for the teaching of comparable face to face course.

On-line teaching qualifications

The following qualifications are guidelines for the selection of on-line course faculty.

  1. Before being approved to teach an on-line course, faculty should meet the following qualifications:
    1. Have recent experience teaching with the current on-line system, or show successful completion of necessary training and/or professional development.
    2. Be able to demonstrate requisite skills in the use and knowledge of computer hardware and software, computer file management, document preparation, e-mail, and web development for successful on-line courses.
    3. Be well qualified in subject matter area.
    4. Understand and be willing to observe the institution's guidelines and procedures for on-line delivery.
    5. Be willing to learn new technologies, tools and software necessary to improve the success of student learning through on-line delivery.
  2. Faculty teaching distance education courses for the first time will be expected to complete an on-line training course.
  3. Faculty members who are experienced in on-line teaching are encouraged to attend continuing education activities.

Faculty Responsibilities

Materials

Faculty members must use a course syllabus that provides for the same learning objectives as the equivalent face-to-face course. Additionally, the course syllabus must include policies and guidelines required by Concordia College for on-line teaching. The course requirements must convey the same academic rigor and learning objectives which is presented in face-to-face courses and align with specific requirements in the college. Course requirements must include significant individual assignments.

The course syllabus should also include the availability of faculty-student interaction that, in a face-to-face classroom setting, would be available through office hours. Faculty members should indicate when and how they will be available for on-line assistance.

Every assignment that will be due during the semester should be listed, along with the assignment type, point values, due date, and assignment description, or a reference to the instructions in the course syllabus.

Before the course begins, faculty members are required to post the course syllabus and any other necessary instructional materials which students are required to purchase.

Faculty members are expected to communicate in a manner that is clear, error-free, and well-formatted. All communications from the faculty member should reflect the highest degree of professionalism.

Faculty/Student Interaction

Faculty members must demonstrate respect for students and expect the same from students, in accordance with guidelines outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Visibility: Faculty members must check the course system or check email frequently to ensure a timely response to student questions.

Feedback and Grading

Faculty should return graded assignments in a timely manner, usually within one week of the assignment expiration date.

Feedback for all assignments should be qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative feedback should include comments on strengths and areas for improvement, and should address content, organization, and mechanics.

Faculty members must submit final grades according to the schedule developed by the Registrar’s office.

Faculty Support [edit]

Concordia recognizes the need for support in the appropriate use of technology for teaching and learning in the on-line environment. Concordia will ensure that faculty have adequate training before assigning them to teach on-line classes. The Vice President of Academic affairs and the administrator of the HELP will ensure that faculty are able to use the system and the appropriate division chair will be responsible to review the quality of the on-line instruction.

The individual academic departments should ensure that instructors utilize all the proper on-line resources in their discipline.

Faculty User Support [edit]

Faculty at Concordia College provide peer support for instructor usage of the HELP, rather than the information technology staff. In addition valuable tutorial assistance is easily accessible on-line at moodle.org which can accessed as a context sensitive help system in the HELP. New on-line instructors may be assigned a mentor by the Vice President of Academic Affairs. The IT staff are to provide assistance to help students use their campus email and ensure that they can login to the HELP system.

Evaluation

An on-line course evaluation will be placed in each course and will be available to students at the end of the term. Faculty should encourage students to complete the surveys. After the grading period the anonymous responses will be provided to the respective faculty, division chair, and to the Academic Affairs office.

Library Support

The library provides many on-line resources in addition to its book collection. Faculty are responsible for contacting the staff to ensure that students have full access to available resources. Links to relevant resources should be included in the within the course on the HELP

Course Setup

It is in the students' best interest for all courses to be logically structured and follow consistent navigation strategies. The following structure is recommended.

  1. Introductory Contents.
    1. It is recommended that the first part of the course include these components:
      1. Course information including instructor bibliographical information.
      2. A standard course description that includes class policies, grading policies, institutional policies, and expectations of students in an on-line environment.
      3. A list of any required course materials including textbooks, access codes, and test proctoring costs.
    2. At the instructor’s discretion, links may be added. Excessive links, though, may overwhelm students and impede navigation.
  2. Organization.
    1. Course Information: The following items are required content for the Course Information page.
      1. Instructor's Syllabus. This is the guideline for students that explains the delivery of the content. Academic freedom applies to the methods and approaches chosen by the instructor to deliver All syllabi must comply with Concordia’s syllabi for face-to-face courses.
      2. Expectations for minimum participation (logins per week, messages, etc.).
      3. Description of the main tools and sections used in the course.
      4. Description of the nature of content delivery.
      5. A statement encouraging students to make use of the Concordia library (when applicable) with the URL link.
      6. Optional items for the Course Information page might include:
        1. Personal greeting from the instructor.
        2. Links to optional download software, sites, and utilities.
    2. Content Considerations
      1. The instructor should develop a consistent method for delivering the contents of the course (i.e., html documents or rich text files).
      2. Recommended components for each Content Module page should include:
        1. An upper text block or header image that displays the title of that Module. Example: Week I (or Chapter 6, or Critical Thinking Unit, etc);
        2. Headings or Titles to mark major concepts within the module;
  3. Communication: The primary means of communication for the course should be through the HELP system so that both instructor and student have a record of the contact. As is instructionally appropriate other means may be use such as video, teleconferencing, telephone or conference calls. The instructor assumes responsibility for verification of the students identity in those circumstances.
  4. Calendar
    1. A calendar block should appear on the main course page showing upcoming assignments.  This normally updated automatically if due dates are placed on assignments by the instructor. The instructor is responsible for setting due dates in time for students to be aware of them, and verifying that they appear on the calendar.
    2. Students will see a list of pending assignments in each of their class when they login to the HELP.
    3. If an on-line course requires in class exams, the dates and location shall be indicated at the beginning of the course.
  5. Assessments
    1. Multiple assessment modes and methods allow instructors to form a more complete "tapestry" of student understanding, as opposed to a "snapshot" that emerges with any single assessment device (test, quiz, paper, project, assignment, etc.).
    2. All of the following devices are recommended for faculty consideration. Use of each tool should always fall within the faculty member's and academic department's discretion, aligning with stated course learning objectives.
      1. Assignment Tool
      2. On-line quizzes
      3. Self tests.
      4. Surveys.
      5. Student Presentations.
      6. Discussion Forums.
    3. Assessment Guidelines
      1. Content modules should contain frequent opportunities for self-assessment.
      2. All assessment should be closely tied to learning objectives.
      3. Procedures for submitting assignments and tests must be clearly explained.
      4. The types of assessment tools used within a course are determined by the faculty member as appropriate to the discipline.
      5. Reasonable precautions should be taken to assure student identity and testing integrity.
  6. Resources: Many courses provide a wide variety of supplementary tools that assist students in their on-line learning. Publisher resources may also be available. When appropriate, the Resources organization should include a direct link to Concordia’s Library Home Page.

Student Verification [edit]

  1. The Information Technology department issues picture IDs to all students at registration each semester.  Students are also provided at the same time with a username and password for campus email. The same username and password are used to access coursework on the HELP system. Both servers protect the login information with secure encryption.
  2. Courses that require proctored tests in a face-to-face course shall also require online students to take tests in person on campus or arrange to have tests proctored elsewhere. Normally this includes a midterm and a final.  The instructor is responsible making the dates of the exams known at the beginning of the semester, administering the exams on campus, and checking the students IDs at time of the test.
  3. In keeping with the Academic Honesty policy, instructors are also responsible for reporting students that submit work which appears not to be their own to the office of Academic Affairs and Student Services for investigation.
  4. Students are required to keep login information confidential.

References to Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges policies
[edit]

  1. Distance and Correspondence Education
  2. Guidelines for Addressing Distance and Correspondence Education