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Academic Affairs

Policy Title
Distance Education
Policy Description
Policy Statement

Winthrop University recognizes the goal of distance education to provide a high quality education to learners including present students as well as those in the underserved areas. This policy outlines the process and expectations for developing and delivering courses by distance learning. 
Policy Procedures

The core of the Winthrop University mission is to fulfill its teaching, research and service responsibilities. Through national caliber programs and facilities, the University performs a vital role in the educational life of the state and region. Winthrop University will impart to its students the knowledge, skills, experience, and values necessary to enrich their lives, and to meet the needs and challenges of the society in which they will live as citizens and professionals.

Distance Education is defined as the process where on-campus and off-campus learners can access course related materials, resources and communication via synchronous (live interactive) or asynchronous (anytime-anywhere) delivery methods through videoconferencing, and/or online Internet-based services. Winthrop University defines distance learners as students who receive entire programs and /or course content through the aforementioned delivery methods. Students enrolled in study abroad programs are excluded from this definition.

Goals for Distance Education/Distance Learning

1. Provide a high quality education (course and/or programs) to a diverse community of learners.
2. Serve the higher education and professional needs of businesses, public schools, and the community.
3. Enable students to utilize current technologies for professional development.
4. Provide faculty with professional development opportunities in state-of-the-art technologies to enhance the broader goals of distance learning and to appropriately model use of technology in classrooms.

Guidelines for Course Curriculum Development and Instruction

Online courses should take advantage of the medium while maintaining the rigor and academic standards expected of conventional course offerings. In determining whether an online course is an appropriate format to deliver a particular course, consideration should be made on whether a high quality, comprehensive learning experience can be delivered relative to the discipline involved. Instructors should consider the amount of learning, mastery, or competency the learner is expected to demonstrate at the completion of the course Instructors may choose to blend asynchronous distance learning with synchronous learning, on-campus activities, in order to enhance the learner’s educational experience. 
Responsibility for the academic content of online courses is vested in the academic department and college from which the course originates. Faculty are encouraged to consult the Instructional Technology Center while in the planning stages of course development.

Course offerings should be based on student learning objectives linked to their assessments.
1) Students must be given the opportunity to evaluate the course using the approved instruments of the respected college. 2) The length of the course should, in most cases, parallel that of conventional courses. 
3) The instructor must ensure that the program components include and that students are aware of how to access faculty advising, student support services (counseling, health services), recreational facilities, library resources, and have opportunities for interaction with other students. The following statement should appear in each syllabi:
Students who are enrolled in online courses offered off-campus are entitled to the campus resources made available to on-campus students. These resources include admissions, counseling and health services, library, student services, and recreational facilities. Questions regarding access to these resources should be directed to the assigned academic advisor.

Student Training

Students are offered training for the online course delivery system through various means.  They may access training tutorials and videos on the Blackboard@Winthrop website by accessing the “Information for Students” link.  Students may also receive instructor-led training as well as in-class training offered by the Online Learning Coordinator.

Faculty Training

Faculty members are trained to use the online course delivery system by attending one of the sessions offered through the Teaching & Learning Center.  Several introductory and advanced sessions are offered each semester.  In addition, one-on-one training sessions are offered at the convenience of the faculty by scheduling an appointment with the Online Learning Coordinator.  Supplemental training manuals are available on the Blackboard@Winthrop website.

Faculty must attend a training session, through TLC or an individual training, before a course is implemented.

Course Development

The Online Course Request Form must be completed each time a course is to be offered using the online course delivery system, even if the course has been previously taught.  The form requires that the faculty member specify how the system will be used in the course, if there is any release of seat time. Faculty must agree they have read, understand and will adhere to the University’s copyright policies and all governing copyright law.  Submission of the form sends the request to the appropriate chair or dean for notification or approval.

The form must be submitted no later than 10 days prior to the official start date of the course.

Courses created using the course delivery system will adhere to the University’s Intellectual Property Rights Policy. All courses developed for delivering are the property of Winthrop University.

Policy Author(s)
Academic Affairs
Effective Date
October 2009
Review Date
January 2009
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