West Los Angeles College Online Instructors’ Handbook wlac distance Education Committee Approved by the wlac academic Senate, May 8, 2012. Table of contents

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West Los Angeles College

Online Instructors’

WLAC Distance Education Committee

Approved by the WLAC Academic Senate, May 8, 2012.

Introduction and Purpose 3

Mission Statement 3

Distance Learning Center 4

Training 4

Expectations of Instructors 6

Curriculum Development 7

Syllabus Requirements and Student Learning Outcomes 9

Online Course Enrollment 10

AFT, California Education Code and Accreditation Requirements 10

Section 508 Compliance 11

District Student Information Resources 12

West's Online Student Services and Resources 12

  • Distance Learning Program Website 12

  • Online Tutorial Services 14


A. Quality Matters Rubric for Online Instruction 15

B. WLAC Model Syllabi 17

C. LACCD Online Absentee Policy 23

D. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College/

WASC Standards Specifically Related to Distance Learning 25

E. Office Hours and Syllabi Form 26

Resources 27

Introduction and Purpose

What is distance learning?

Section 51865 of the California Education Code defines distance learning as “instruction in which the pupil and instructor are in different locations and interact through the use of computer and communications technology. Distance learning may include video or audio instruction in which the primary mode of communication between pupil and instructor is instructional television, video, telecourses, or any other instruction that relies on computer or communications technology.”

A similar definition is found in Article 40 of the 2011 – 2014 agreement between the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild (AFT) which defines distance learning as “a formal mode of interaction which uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and which supports regular and substantive interaction between the students and instructor, either synchronously or asynchronously.”
This handbook serves as a guide for West Los Angeles College (WLAC) instructors teaching online, hybrid or web enhanced classes. In addition to identifying the resources available to instructors, and their students, it includes policies and procedures relating to distance education which have been developed by both the District and the College.
West's Distance Learning Program encompasses online, hybrid and web-enhanced classes and follows the principles of high standards and student-focused learning.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Distance Learning Program is to support students enrolled in the College’s online, hybrid and web-enhanced classes and their instructors. Our goal is to create an online pedagogical environment which maximizes opportunities for student success by providing technical support to both students and faculty and by facilitating access to online student support services.

The Distance Learning Program:

  • Develops and maintains the College’s Online and Hybrid Classes website, the Online International Student Portal and the Online Help Desk

  • Sets up and provides access to course sites for online, hybrid and web enhanced classes

  • Provides technical support for the College’s Learning Management System (LMS) and assists instructors with multimedia and web development

  • Supports training opportunities related to distance learning and other innovative instructional technologies

The program supports the College’s Educational Master Plan Goal of “Ensuring the highest levels of educational quality within West’s diversified modes of instructional delivery”.

The Distance Learning Program is not responsible for scheduling classes or instructor assignments. These duties are the responsibility of the College’s Academic Affairs Deans who work in consultation with Division Chairs which are elected by the faculty.
Computers and related peripherals that are used on campus are installed and maintained by the Information Technology Department and audio visual equipment is distributed and maintained by the Library and Learning Resources Division.
Distance Learning Center

The Distance Learning Center is located on the 4rth floor of the Heldman Learning Resource Center (HLRC) in room 4A. The Center is open Monday – Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Instructors have access to individual assistance in-person, via email and by phone. Advance appointments are suggested and will not be accepted during the first two weeks of the semester when our primary focus is assisting students and troubleshooting. Instructors are encouraged to make use of these resources during the winter and summer intercessions. Topics covered range from the integration of video and audio into courses and advanced Etudes questions and troubleshooting.

The Distance Learning Center has developed initiatives to assist new and continuing instructors teaching online, hybrid and web-enhanced classes through an email distribution list, extensive online resources, on-campus and online workshops.  
Resources which are available online for instructors at http://www.wlac.edu/online/instructors.asp include:

  • Video repositories, instructional software, Web 2.0 tools and tutorials

  • Etudes materials

  • Training workshop handouts

  • Curriculum forms and examples

  • Anti-plagiarism and Student Discipline resources


Before teaching an online, hybrid or web-enhanced class, West faculty must complete Etudes Certification. This three week online class is the minimum requirement for teaching online. Registration is available at http://etudes.org/training-schedule-etu101-online.htm

Instructors who successfully complete the training can be fully reimbursed for the cost. Prior to the training start date a Conference or Activity Request Form must be submitted to your Division Chair. After you complete the training you must submit a Travel Expense Claim and a Report on Conference Attendance Form. These forms are available at http://www.laccd.edu/faculty_staff/extranet2/forms.htm

Instructors also have access to the Cyber Teachers' Institute at http://etudes.org/cti/ which consists of three professional development classes that focus on best online teaching practices. Instructors can be reimbursed by following the same procedures described above.

Etudes certified instructors have access to a comprehensive Users' Group. Resources include complete lessons for each Etudes feature and a 24/7 Discussion Board where best practices are addressed and questions are answered.
Etudes Users' Group
Once you complete the Etudes training you should request a Development shell at http://etudesproject.org/site-request.htm This will provide a practice course site that you can use to develop an online course. In addition, you will get access to the Etudes Users' Group where you can review the entire training course content in the Modules and search for information or post questions in the Discussion area.
Etudes Support

Etudes hosts the College's online, hybrid and web-enhanced classes so College server malfunctions or maintenance will not affect your online classes. Become familiar with Etudes system requirements, login procedures and available resources. An Online Student Helpdesk is available at http://www.wlac.edu/online/helpdesk.asp

Rubric for Online Instruction
West subscribes to Quality Matters (QM), “a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses” (http://www.qmprogram.org/). QM’s peer review approach has received national acclaim and consists of three primary components, a course review rubric, the Peer Review Process and QM Professional Development. The QM rubric (Appendix A) can be used as a course “self evaluation” tool. Tech Fair workshops use this rubric to facilitate the development of new courses and the revision of existing courses. The rubric is also used as a means of evaluating and showcasing exemplary online instruction at the Etudes Annual Summit and/or West’s Tech Fair.
Office of Teaching and Learning
In addition to Etudes and CTI training opportunities, the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) provides training and education for faculty to evaluate and improve their use of instructional technologies through its on-going Tech Fair.  Workshops encourage faculty-to-faculty exchanges in using technology in courses and student services.  Faculty and staff lead workshops for other faculty and staff on innovative uses of technology to improve the student experience in online, hybrid, and web-enhanced courses.  OTL develops faculty as trainers for other faculty as well as providing a forum for sharing best practices on instructional technology. Tech Fair workshops are offered every fall and spring semester and are open to all faculty and staff.  
In addition to on-campus workshops, Tech Fair presentations are also available as webinars, online workshops that can be accessed with an Internet connection and phone line.
For a complete workshop schedule visit http://www.wlac.edu/techfair/
Expectations of Instructors
Use of the College’s Learning Management System (LMS)
Keeping up to date on the LMS platform (Etudes) and College information is the responsibility of each instructor. There are professional development activities and informational announcements sent regularly through College email. Faculty should also visit the Etudes Users' Group frequently. Emails are sent when substantial information or features are changed, but discussions between colleagues in the Users' Group can also be beneficial.
In addition to the Users’ Group there are a number of online resources available to instructors at http://etudesproject.org/support.htm. These resources include an Overview of Etudes (PowerPoint and Video) and PowerPoints for specific Etudes tools (Melete Lesson Builder, JForum Discussion/Private Messaging and Assignments, Tests and Surveys).
At minimum online instructors should make use of these Etudes tools:

  • Course Map - Course map is a valuable organizational tool which provides students with an easy to understand “dashboard” listing all the course requirements, due dates, etc.

  • Announcements – About a week prior to each semester instructors will receive a sample Welcome Letter with instructions on how to post a high priority Announcement. In addition to being posted in the course site high priority announcements are also emailed to all enrolled students. Announcements should be used on a regular basis to remind students of important deadlines, etc.

  • Syllabus – Instructors are encouraged to make their syllabi public so that prospective students can view syllabi prior to enrolling. Additional information about syllabi is addressed below and a Model Syllabus is included in Appendix B.

  • Modules – The Modules tool can be used for lectures, class notes, instructional resources, etc. Usually instructors organize modules by week or unit. Be careful to ensure that the terms you use are consistent to avoid confusion. For example, if you use Chapter 1 in the modules area don’t use Week 1 for the same topic in the

  • Assignments, Tests and Surveys – In addition to Discussions, which can also be graded, these tools are the primary evaluation tools. In addition to weekly homework assignments and a discussion, instructors may want to require weekly quizzes. A portfolio approach to evaluation is strongly recommended for online classes. High stakes exams may pressure students to attempt cheating (see Academic Misconduct below).

  • Discussion and Private Messages – These tools are the primary communication tools used in an online class. An important Title V requirement is “regular effective contact” which makes the use of these tools essential for a successful online class. The Discussion Tool is used for group discussions and the Private Messaging tool is used to send messages to one or more students.

  • Chat Room – The chat tool can be used for group discussion, synchronous discussion and office hours. All chats are archived so students who are unable to participate can still access the information.

  • Gradebook – Use of the gradebook will make is easier to provide students with prompt feedback regarding their performance and facilitate the submission of grades at the end of the semester.

  • Activity Meter – This tool easily enables instructors to monitor student activity and submissions. It can be used as an “early alert” system as it makes it easy to contact students who are not participating or doing poorly in the class.

Curriculum Development
Most disciplines can adapt on-campus courses for online or hybrid delivery. Courses that include clinical experiences and laboratories can be augmented by distance education. The decision to use distance learning must be made on a course-by-course basis with consideration given to course content, student needs and the flexibility of the delivery mechanism. Developing an online or hybrid class provides faculty with the opportunity to see their course(s) from a new perspective and often results in improvements to both their on-campus and online courses.
Proposals for the development of online or hybrid courses are initiated, evaluated and approved by faculty in the discipline. Distance education course proposals should be evaluated for appropriateness and only those courses demonstrating suitable content and sufficient rigor should be approved. The proposal should include a consideration of the following:

  • Appropriateness within the degree program or as a stand-alone course

  • Suitable course content and sufficient rigor

  • Appropriate uses of technology in course delivery

West offers over 240 courses online. If you are interested in developing an online or hybrid course check with the Office of Academic Affairs to see if the course has already been approved for distance education delivery. The curriculum approval process is the same for hybrid classes as it is for classes that are fully online. Be sure to check with your Division Chair before you start the process as his or her approval is required.

Title 5, Section 55378, requires that before an online course is developed it is separately reviewed and approved according to the district's course approval procedures. Course Outlines must be either created or updated before they can be submitted to the Curriculum Committee. Distance education courses should be reviewed through the six-year cyclical review process of Program Review pursuant to Title 5, Section 55201.
In addition to a new or updated course outline a Distance Education Approval Form is required. This form certifies that:

  • The same standards of course quality are applied to the distance education courses as are applied to traditional classroom courses.

(Course Quality Standards - Title V, section 55372)

  • Determination and judgments about the quality of the distance education course were made with the full involvement of the faculty as defined by Administrative Regulation E-65 and college curriculum approval procedures.

(Course Quality Determination - Title 5, section 55374)

  • Each section of the course which is delivered through distance education includes regular personal contact between instructor and students.

(Instructor Contact - Title 5, section 55376)
A Distance Education Addendum requires documentation of each course objective and an explanation of how distance learning strategies will be used to help students achieve the objective.
These forms and completed examples are all easily available to instructors online at http://www.wlac.edu/online/forms.asp. Approved forms are kept on file in the Office of Academic Affairs.
Once you have your Division Chair's approval, email the Chair of the Curriculum Committee and ask for the course to be considered at the next Technical Review meeting. After the Technical Review meeting you will present the course for consideration at the following Curriculum Committee meeting. For Committee schedules visit http://www.wlac.edu/westcommittees/
Committee Participation, Program Review and SLO Assessment. All faculty must participate in SLO assessment according to the bargaining contract. Full-time faculty must participate in program review and meet committee obligations. Adjuncts are also welcome to participate on committees.
Evaluations. All faculty are evaluated on a regular basis. Review the bargaining agreement (Article 19) and the evaluation form in Appendix E of the bargaining agreement to understand the items that are required for acceptable evaluations.
Attendance and class activity. Los Angeles Community College District has a policy of weekly interaction on the part of instructors. If you are unable to interact for more than one week of the semester, you must take that time as sick or vacation leave. Forms for reporting those absences are available online. (See Appendix C for the LACCD Absence Policy.) Complaints about instructor absence or unavailability will be reflected in instructor evaluations.
Regular effective contact can include email, private messaging, instant messaging, online chat, threaded discussion, phone and/or web conferencing. Instructors should include information about their office hours and the mode(s) of delivery used for office hours in their syllabi as well as an indication of how quickly questions will be replied to (24 hours, 48 hours, etc.). It is recommended that instructors reply to student inquiries daily, with the exception of weekends, for short term classes and at least three times per week for full term classes.
In addition, instructors are encouraged to use the resources available at the Distance Learning Center and Digital Design Studio to make their courses more engaging by incorporating multimedia, podcasts and videos. Students can also be assigned group projects, asked to explore relevant web resources to share with the class, evaluate peer contributions and other activities requiring analysis, synthesis and evaluation with application to real-life situations.

Syllabus Requirements and Student Learning Outcomes

Your Division Chair should review your course syllabi prior to each semester. See Appendix B for a model course syllabus.
Chairs are looking specifically for at least two required Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) and at least two Program SLOs to be included on each course syllabus.  

The Institutional SLOs, as approved by the Academic Senate, can be found at: http://www.wlac.edu/slo/documents/ILO_list.pdf For example, SLO F relates to Technical Competence: Utilize the appropriate technology effectively for informational, academic, personal, and professional needs. Use competent technique in a musical performance.

Several online course offerings relate directly to this ISLO of technological competency, such as Computer Science Information Technology, Library Science and the Online Student Success Lab. However, regardless of the primary content of the course, online classes provide the opportunity for students to apply technology in order to successfully complete a course.
Students may obtain initial assistance in navigating the course site, finding the primary resources of a course, and simple processes such as attaching files. Over the course of the online class, students increasingly maintain their interaction through appropriate application of technology as they locate, interpret, organize, and present their work. While technical assistance is available to students online, on-campus and by phone the successful student incorporates and builds upon his or her technological skills in an online course.
Part of the task of any online course includes increasing student technology capabilities. Do not assume a particular level of understanding (someone may have his or her own blog, and yet be unfamiliar with how to attach a document), but after providing basic instructions, guide and expect students to increase their familiarity with technology and information systems.

The Program SLOs are available to view at http://www.wlac.edu/slo/program_slos.html

These SLOs are not to be confused with course objectives, which should also be included in your syllabi. For example, "Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to… ". This information is available from the outline of record at https://ecd.laccd.edu/CC_Search_1.aspx
These SLOs should be explained to the class when the instructor reviews the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. An instructor who teaches two or more sections of a course in a single semester would need only to submit one syllabus.

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