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ACCJC DE Standard I.B

Beyond Compliance: Excellence in Distance Education @ SBVC

ACCJC Standard: I.B.1

The institution maintains an ongoing, collegial, self-reflective dialogue about the continuous improvement of student learning and institutional processes. 


 

ACCJC Guide for Evaluating Distance Education (June, 2013)

  • What parties are involved in the institution’s dialog about the continuous improvement of student learning through DE/CE mode and how it compares with student learning in traditional programs? How is this dialog organized and communicated?
  • About what subjects related to the improvement of DE/CE has the college engaged? What impact has the dialog had on student learning?

 Evidence of institutional dialog about the continuous improvement of student learning in DE/CE mode. 


Beyond Audit and Compliance: DE Excellence at SBVC


Description:

The Online Program Committee is a standing committee of the Academic Senate.  The charge of the Online Program Committee is:  "The Online Program Committee advises the Vice President of Instruction regarding issues related to online learning at the College.  In addition, the committee assists discipline faculty in the preparation of distance education requests to the Curriculum Committee.  The committee serves as a conduit of information among faculty, administration, and students by providing a technological vision for issues related to online learning."  This committee is comprised of faculty members, administrators, and, occasionally, students.  The Technology Committee is a standing committee of the Academic Senate.  San Bernardino Valley College's Technology Committee is responsible for creating and maintating the Campus Technology Plan.  This committee is comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators.  The Online Program Committee is represented on the Technology Committee. And the Technology Committee is represented on the College Council. At the District level, the Online Program Committee has representatives on the District Distributed Education Coordinating Council.  So the dialogue regarding continuous improvement through Distance Education modalities is institutionalized through this committee structure.  [webpage--Online Program Committee Website with charge]  [webpage--Technology Committee Website with charge

The dialogue is comprehensive, dealing with students, faculty, technology, pedagogy in the mode of Distance Education, college policies, and accreditation issues.  What has been the impact of this dialogue? There is high student satisfaction with the Distance Education offerings at SBVC.  There is high faculty satisfaction with the Distance Education offerings at SBVC.  The satisfaction with the technical ecosystem, which includes the Blackboard Learning Management System and a 10 gigabyte connection to the internet, is also high.  In 2012, the ACCJC approved the Substantive Change Proposal for Distance Education that included 15 degrees and 20 certificates that can be earned by taking more than 50% of the units in a DE mode.  Again in 2014, a subsequent Substantive Change Proposal was approved by ACCJC.  The San Bernardino Community College District has been supportive of the online programs and has encouraged SBVC to offer more online classes, when the college's budget allowed an increase in sections.  Finally, this section of the college website is evidence that the dialogue about quality online instruction is extensive, widespread and has been conducted for an extended period of time. The section of the website has been constructed over a period of approximately 16 months. [website--Student Satisfaction Survey[website--Faculty satisfaction survey]  [website--Substantive Change Proposals, 2012 and 2014]  [website--faculty newsletter]  [website--accreditation and DE]

SBVC's Educational Master Plan is a comprehensive document that includes a snapshop of each deparment or program.  The data elements included for every department or program are retention, success, and the percentage of classes offered in the online format.  The percentage of classes offered in the online format is the result of a complex process including the departments, the divisions, and the college.  So the Online Program Committee decided in the fall of 2012 to focus on retention and success as the key metrics for analyzing the institutional effectiveness of any class offered in the Distance Education format.    [website--educational master plan] [webpage--minutes fall 2012 OPC] [website--handbook for online students and student success]

The California Community College Chancellor's office is a source of data regarding student learning in California Community Colleges.  Two of the data elements relevant here are student success and retention.  Those numbers are generally lower for online classes than for on campus classes state-wide and at SBVC.  The Online Program has kept track of that college-wide data for four years.  In the last two years saw the committee focus the data in a more granular way, identifying retention and success rates for specific departments.  In October, 2012, the committee identified measurable goals and objectives regarding retention and success in online classes. SBVC's goal for the retention and success is based on the averaging of the data for four semesters.  The state average for retention and success become the benchmarks.  SBVC's goal is to, first, match or exceed the state average for retention and success in DE courses.  When that goal is reached for 4 consecutive semesers, then the goal will be revisited and revised.  [website--CCCC datamart.] [website--Online Learning Plan] [website--handbook for online students and student success]


Evaluation:

It is the opinion of the Online Program Committee that SBVC meets this standard in terms of Distance Education.



ACCJC Standard:  I.B.2

The institution sets goals to improve its effectiveness consistent with its stated purposes. The institution articulates its goals and states the objectives derived from them in measurable terms so that the degree to which they are achieved can be determined and widely discussed. The institutional members understand these goals and work collaboratively toward their achievement. 


 ACCJC Guide for Evaluating Distance Education (June, 2013)

  • Has the college defined specific goals (instition-set standards) and objectives for the effectiveness of its DE/CE activities? How are these goals and objectives defined?
  • How does the institution measure if the goals and objectives for its distance education and/or correspondence learning activities are met? To what extent does the college use these goals and objectives to determine its priorities?
  • Is there a college-wide understanding of these goals and the processes to implement them? How does the college ensure that there is an institutional commitment to achieve identified goals?

 Evidence that clearly stated and measurable goals and objectives guide the college community in making decisions regarding its priorities related to DE/CE. 

 Evidence of evaluation of progress on the achievement of goals and objectives related to DE/CE. 


Beyond Audit and Compliance: DE Excellence at SBVC


Description:

In 2011, the Online Program Committee created a comprehensive Online Learning Plan to organize the activities and concerns regarding online learning at SBVC.   The structure of the plan has seven key elements:  Introduction; Planning Principles; I. Institutional Context and Commitment; II. Curriculum and Instruction; III. Faculty Support; IV. Student Support; V. Evaluation and Assessment.  This document is reviewed at the beginning of each semester and adjusted according to the needs and the pressures of the moment.  Thus, the plan is a living document, continually evolving.  However, the plan keeps the committee accountable to achieving measurable goals and objectives.  

]pdf--OPC minutes] [website--Online Learning Plan] [website--CCCC datamart.In October, 2012, the committee identified measurable goals and objectives regarding retention and success in online classes. SBVC's goal for the retention and success is based on the averaging of the data for four semesters.  The state average for retention and success become the benchmarks.  SBVC's goal is to, first, match or exceed the state average for retention and success in DE courses.  When that goal is reached for 4 consecutive semesters, then the goal will be revisited and revised.  [

The data on retention and success are compiled each semester and then published in the section of the SBVC website that is the virtual handbook for students taking online classes.  The goal is to make this data open and transparent for the students of online classes.  [website--student success in online classes]

Evaluation:

It is the opinion of the Online Program Committee that SBVC meets this standard in terms of Distance Education.  




ACCJC Standard:  I.B.3

The institution assesses progress toward achieving its stated goals and makes decisions regarding the improvement of institutional effectiveness in an ongoing and systematic cycle of evaluation, integrated planning, resource allocation, implementation, and re-evaluation. Evaluation is based on analyses of both quantitative and qualitative data. 


 ACCJC Guide for Evaluating Distance Education (June , 2013)

  • Does the college have separate processes for the planning, approval, evaluation, and review of courses offered in DE/CE mode or are the processes similar to the courses offered in traditional face-to-face mode? What is the rationale for the chosen approach? How are these processes integrated into the college’s overall planning process?
  • How are the needs for fiscal, technical and human resources required for teaching DE/CE learning programs identified and integrated in the planning processes and assessed for effectiveness?
  • To what extent are data such as on student admission, staff teaching distance and/or correspondence learning programs, retention, assessment and satisfaction related to DE/CE available? How are these data analyzed and used for planning and communicated to relevant staff and stakeholders, and used for planning?
  • What data and/or evidence is used to communicate and analyze institution-set standards?
  • Is the college knowledgeable about current federal regulations related to DE/CE? 

 Evidence of evaluation of progress on the achievement of goals and objectives related to DE/CE. 

 List of all DE/CE courses/programs. 

 Evidence of quantitative and qualitative data that support the analysis of achievement of goals and objectives for DE/CE. 


Beyond Audit and Compliance: DE Excellence at SBVC


 

Description:

Title 5 of the California Education Code requires that if any of the instruction of a particular course is intended to be offered by Distance Education, then that course needs to undergo a separate review process.  [55206. Separate Course Approval. If any portion of the instruction in a proposed or existing course or course section is designed to be provided through distance education in lieu of face-to-face interaction between instructor and student, the course shall be separately reviewed and approved according to the district's adopted course approval procedures. NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 66700 and 70901, Education Code. Reference: Sections 70901 and 70902, Education Code] All of the courses approved for Distance Education delivery at SBVC have undergone such scrutiny.  SBVC requires that all courses proposed for Distance Education delivery be separately reviewed and approved by the Curriculum Committee, a standing committee of the Academic Senate, before being forwarded to the Board of Trustees for final approval. [webpage-Curriculum Committee Handbookhandbook--click Curriculum Handbook link--navigate to DE approval section

In 2006, the college finished the transition from a paper process for course approval in the Curriculum committee to a process driven by CurricUNET, a state-wide database program designed to assist California Community Colleges with their curriculum development and approvals.  As a part of this transition, the Online Program Committee realized that the required separate approval for Distance Education courses needed clarification.  Specifically, Title 5 of the California Education Code states that any course that is approved for Distance Education Delivery demonstrate that there will be "Regular Effective Contact" between instructor and students in the class. [55211. Instructor Contact.  In addition to the requirements of section 55002 and any locally established requirements applicable to all courses, district-governing boards shall ensure that: (a) All approved courses offered as distance education include regular effective contact between instructor and students, through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, correspondence, voice mail. e-mail, or other activities.] The Online Program Committee developed standard definitions that identified the types of contact included in Distance Education courses. Although separate approval for DE courses has been in place for over 30 years, this clarification was a significant addition to the CurricUNET process.  That process includes the initiating faculty having a conversation with a co-chair of the online Program Committee, creating a detailed description of the rationale for Distance Education delivery, including sample assignments focusing on the appropriateness of Distance Education delivery for the content of the course, and, finally, listing the appropriate contact types that constitute a minimum baseline for each section of the course offered in the Distance Education format. The identified contact types clearly identify the Regular Effective Contact that happens in each course and clearly states how the class will fulfill the quality control measures regarding Regular Effective Contact established in Title 5. The final review process for Distance Education delivery includes one of the co-chairs of the SBVC's Online Program Committee and the District's Executive Director of Distributed Education and Technology Services, thereby ensuring that approval for Distance Education Delivery meets the highest standards of the college and the District.  [webpage-Curriculum Committee Handbook--click Curriculum Handbook link--navigate to DE approval section

The definition of Distance Education by ACCJC includes a requirement that Distance Education courses demonstrate that there is "Regular Substantive Interaction" between faculty and students.   This is one of the major distinctions between Distance Education and Correspondence Education drawn by the ACCJC.  In 2011, the Online Program Committee discussed the Title 5 requirements and the ACCJC requirements and stipulated that at SBVC "Regular Effective Contact" is equivalent to "Regular Substantive Interaction."  When SBVC fulfills the Title 5 requirements of the State of California, the accreditation requirements of ACCJC are simultaneously being fulfilled. Thus, the rigorous approval processes in place at SBVC initially demonstrate that the relevant Commission Policies regarding Distance Education are being addressed. [pdf--Minutes from the Online Program Committee]

The Online Learning Plan is mapped to several plans at higher levels in the hierarchy.  The College's  Educational Master Plan is coordinated with the Strategic Plan.  The Technology Plan is coordinated with the Strategic Plan.  And the Online Learning Plan is coordinated with the Technology Plan.  That is, the specific goals and tasks of the Online Learning Plan are included in the Technology plan. One of those goals addresses the data on student success and retention.  The Online Program Committee has set specific goals regarding success and retention.  All stakeholders are made aware of this data in the handbook for online students included on SBVC's website.  [website--technology plan]  [website--Online Learning Plan] [website--handbook for online students]

How are the needs for fiscal, technical and human resources required for teaching DE/CE learning programs identified and integrated in the planning processes and assessed?  These are specifically addressed in other parts of the Accreditation Standards, specifically Standard III. 

In the spring of 2012, SBVC began distributing a Student Satisfaction of Online Learning survey.  The results of that survey are included in the Handbook for Online Students.  In the spring of 2013, SBVC began distributing a Faculty Satisfaction of Online Learning survey.  The results of that survey are included in the Online Program Committee's portion of the SBVC website. [website--Student Satisfaction Survey] [website--Faculty Satisfaction Survey]

The co-chairs of the Online Program Committee are on a listserv from the state Chancellor's office.  That office provides much information about state and federal regulations pertaining to Distance Education.  Further, the college's Accreditation Liaison Officer is apprised of federal regulations by ACCJC.  Members of the Online Program Committee have taken the ACCJC online class titled "Accreditation Basics," which provides a context for much of the federal regulation that has an impact on accreditation.  And finally, SBVC is represented by both administrators and faculty on the District's Distributed Education Coordinating Council.  There the impact of federal regulations for Distance Education is shared between SBVC, Crafton Hills College, and the District.  The major areas of federal regulation pertaining to Distance Education are student privacy, student authentication, and state authorization.  

"FERPA" is the acronym for the "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act" of 1974.  (Sometimes this is called the "Buckley Amendment.")  FERPA requires that educational records be treated in a very specific way to ensure the privacy of students and their records.  SBVC's policy regarding FERPA is included in the College Catalog and can be accessed online at SBVC's website. And the Handbook for Online students includes a specific reference to student privacy in Distance Education formats.  [webpage--college catalog][webpage--Online Student Handbook

In the summer of 2008, the Congress passed legislation that includes language with implication for online classes.  One key issue is knowing that the student who is doing the work in an online class is the student who is getting credit for doing the work in the online class.  Although the language of the conference committee that drafted the compromise legislation is clear that using an authentication system with a student login, such as Blackboard, is sufficient to meet the spirit and letter of the law, this is also an opportunity to reflect on academic integrity more broadly.  The statewide Academic Senate has published articles warning of interpreting the law too narrowly at the same time that faculty can embrace the opportunity to reflect on the pedagogy (andragogy) of online learning.

All SBVC online classes require authentication through a secure portal.  Blackboard is the major learning management system, but some department, such as Math, use a learning management system provided by a publisher.  In all cases, however, each student has a unique username and password.  So the secure log in provides one element in academic integrity.  Faculty are encouraged to develop their own approaches to academic integrity, such as instruction on what constitutes plagiarism and why it is bad.  In addition,  the Blackboard splash screen reminds the user that there is a breach of academic integrity if the student logging in is not the student enrolled in the course.  Finally, a module titled "Academic Integrity" on the Blackboard home page reminds the student that "clicking into" a course violates academic integrity if the student is not the one registered for the class.  [website--student authentication] [website--blackboard splash screen] [pdf--academicIntegrity2]

The U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DoE) released new regulations regarding distance education in October 2010. One of the new regulations focuses on the need for institutions offering distance education to acquire authorization from any state where the institution has currently enrolled students. SBVC has a process in place to identify such students and request authorization. The ultimate rationale for such policies for state authorization is the protection of students against predatory practices on the part of institutions of higher education.  The Online Student Handbook page on the college website is one of the places where the college has made public the various ways that complaints about such practices are resolved.  [website--out of state students] [website--OPC policies page] [website--online student handbook]

Faculty are made aware of these federal policies by being included in the "online faculty resources" area of the SBVC website. [website--faculty resources]

In order to comply with the ACCJC's desire to have institution-set standards in place prior to the next site visit, the Online Program Committee discussed DE Retention and DE Success at SBVC.  After several meetings, the committee decided that the institution-set standard for DE should be rigorous and challenging, at the same time flexible and encouraging experimentation.  The following statements are a product of that discussion.

"SBVC's Institution-Set Standards for Distance Education are based on the California State Average for Retention and Success for distance education classes offered for credit.  This information can be found at the California Community College Chancellor's Office's Datamart website.

SBVC's institution-set standard for DE will be met if the retention and success for distance education courses are equal to or greater than the state averages for DE classes. 

SBVC's institution-set standard for DE will not be met if either success or retention for DE classes falls below the state average for DE classes for three consecutive semesters."

(Approved by SBVC's Online Program Committee on February 21, 2014.  Approved by SBVC's Academic Senate on May 7, 2014.)

And the institution-set standards regarding Distance Education are made open and public by being visible on the SBVC website. [website--ACCJC institution-set standards] [website--minutes]

Evaluation:


It is the opinion of the Online Program Committee that SBVC meets this standard in terms of Distance Education.




ACCJC Standard:  I.B.4

The institution provides evidence that the planning process is broad-based, offers opportunities for input by appropriate constituencies, allocates necessary resources, and leads to improvement of institutional effectiveness. 


 ACCJC Guide for Evaluating Distance Education (June, 2013)

  • What mechanisms exist for involvement of appropriate constituencies in DE/CE in college planning?
  • To what extent does the college allocate resources to fulfill its plans for DE/CE? When resources to fulfill plans are not available, does the college identify and follow strategies to increase its capacity, i.e., seek alternate means for securing resources?

 Evidence of mechanisms for allocation of resources to plans for DE/CE.  


Beyond Audit and Compliance: DE Excellence at SBVC


Description:

The Online Program Committee is a standing committee of the Academic Senate.  The charge of the Online Program Committee is:  "The Online Program Committee advises the Vice President of Instruction regarding issues related to online learning at the College.  In addition, the committee assists discipline faculty in the preparation of distance education requests to the Curriculum Committee.  The committee serves as a conduit of information among faculty, administration, and students by providing a technological vision for issues related to online learning."  This committee is comprised of faculty members, administrators, and, occasionally, students.  The Technology Committee is a standing committee of the Academic Senate.  San Bernardino Valley College's Technology Committee is responsible for creating and maintaining the Campus Technology Plan.  This committee is comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators.  The Online Program Committee is represented on the Technology Committee. And the Technology Committee is represented on the College Council. At the District level, the Online Program Committee has representatives on the District Distributed Education Coordinating Council.  So the dialogue regarding continuous improvement through Distance Education modalities is institutionalized through this committee structure and the involvement in planning happens at every level.  [webpage--Online Program Committee Website with charge]  [website--Technology Committee Website with charge

Since there is no office of Distance Education at the college level and since there is no budget specifically allocated for DE at the college level, resources are addressed in several ways.  Resources to hire faculty are wrapped in the division budget.  Resources for campus technology are in the budget for the Director of Campus Technology Services.  And the resources for the LMS and software support are in the budget of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Technology and Educational Support Services.

 


Evaluation:

It is the opinion of the Online Program Committee that SBVC meets this standard in terms of Distance Education.

 

 

ACCJC Standard:  I.B.5

The institution uses documented assessment results to communicate matters of quality assurance to appropriate constituencies.


 ACCJC Guide for Evaluating Distance Education (June, 2013)

  • How does the institution communicate its institution-set standards for DE/CE? (New in June 2013) Guide

  • Are the assessment data collected for DE/CE different from data collected for traditional face-to-face education? What is the rationale? What types of assessment data does the college collect on learning programs and support offered in DE/CE format?
  • How are these data communicated to the relevant stakeholders internally and externally?

 Evidence of periodic and systematic assessment of the effectiveness of DE/CE. 

 Evidence that the assessment data is effectively communicated to the appropriate constituencies.  


Beyond Audit and Compliance: DE Excellence at SBVC


Description:

Each course and program proposed for Distance Education delivery has already been approved for traditional, on-campus delivery.  There are no alterations in General Education requirements, major requirements, or certificate requirements for courses and programs offered via Distance Education.  The Course Outline of Record, the official record of intent of instruction for each class offered by the college, is the same no matter what the delivery mode.  And there is no differentiation of delivery mode on a student's transcript.  Furthermore, the Student Learning Outcomes for each course are the same, regardless of delivery mode. 

SBVC's Program Review process addresses Distance Education concerns through the levels of the divisions and departments.  And the SBVC Educational Master Plan includes data on retention and success for each department and program.  But the Online Program Committee has a process to track the success and retention of DE sections.  That process began in earnest with the Substantive Change Proposal written during the the 2011-2012 academic year.  In 2012, the Online Program Committee set measurable goals for those markers of effectiveness and has tracked the data for those goals for two years.  That data  is made public in the Handbook for Online Students on the SBVC website.  [website--retention and success] [pdf--minutes of the Online Program Committee]

Furthermore, in order to comply with the ACCJC's desire to have institution-set standards in place prior to the next site visit, the Online Program Committee discussed DE Retention and DE Success at SBVC.  After several meetings, the committee decided that the institution-set standard for DE should be rigorous and challenging, at the same time flexible and encouraging experimentation.  The following statements are a product of that discussion.

"SBVC's Institution-Set Standards for Distance Education are based on the California State Average for Retention and Success for distance education classes offered for credit.  This information can be found at the California Community College Chancellor's Office's Datamart website.

SBVC's institution-set standard for DE will be met if the retention and success for distance education courses are equal to or greater than the state averages for DE classes. 

SBVC's institution-set standard for DE will not be met if either success or retention for DE classes falls below the state average for DE classes for three consecutive semesters."

(Approved by SBVC's Online Program Committee on February 21, 2014.  Approved by SBVC's Academic Senate on May 7, 2014.)[website--committee minutes]  [website--ACCJC Institution-set standards]

 


Evaluation:

It is the opinion of the Online Program Committee that SBVC meets this standard in terms of Distance Education.  



ACCJC Standard:  I.B.7

The institution assesses its evaluation mechanisms through a systematic review of their effectiveness in improving instructional programs, student support services, library and other learning support services. 


ACCJC Guide for Evaluating Distance Education (June, 2013)

  • What mechanisms does the institution use to gather evidence about the effectiveness of DE/CE learning programs and related student and learning support services? Are they different from the mechanisms applied for review of traditional programs and services?
  • How effectively do evaluation processes and results contribute to improvement of DE/CE programs, related library and other student support and learning services? 

 Evidence of current reviews of programs and support services including library services related to DE/CE and examples of improvements 


Beyond Audit and Compliance: DE Excellence at SBVC 


Description:

In the fall of 2011, a student satisfaction survey for online students was created.  It has been deployed in the spring semesters in 2012, 2013, and 2014.   The results of these surveys show that online students are satisfied with the learning opportunities, the student support services, and the overall administration of the online programs at SBVC.  [website--student satisfaction survey]

In the spring of 2013, a faculty satisfaction survey for online faculty was created and deployed.  It was deployed for a second time in the spring of 2014.  However, the Online Program Committee noted that it is not as complete as the student satisfaction survey because it doeesn't include questions about student support services.  That survey will be modified in the fall of 2014 to include more questions regarding student support services and library availability for online classes. So when that survey is deployed again in the spring of 2015, the Online Program Committee will have more data with which to assess the DE offerings at SBVC..   [website--faculty satisfaction survey]

Information from these surveys is included in the extensive Program Review process, though which departments and divisions are allocated resources.  As an example of improvement of services,  the library was able to offer again the 24/7 access to a reference librarian.  That service was eliminated in the wave of budget cuts in the last few years.  But because of the demand for that particular element of student support, it was resurrected.  

Evaluation:

It is the opinion of the Online Program Committee that SBVC meets this standard in terms of Distance Education.