Distributed Education

Instruction Evaluation Questions & Course Standards

Instruction Evaluation Questions

  1. The policies in the syllabus (attendance, due dates, late or missed assignments) were written clearly?
  2. Course materials and explanations were clear?
  3. The instructor seemed prepared and organized at the first class meeting?
  4. The instructor seemed prepared and organized at other class meetings?
  5. The process used to evaluate you was fair and accurate?
  6. Graded assignments were returned in a timely manner?
  7. Phone calls and messages you left for the instructor were returned in a timely manner?
  8. The instructor treated you in a polite and appropriate manner?
  9. The instructor seemed interested in your progress?
  10. The course requirements were spaced appropriately throughout the semester?

Course Standards

Syllabus

Must

  • Faculty must provide students a detailed course syllabus.
  • The course syllabus must be available on public pages for prospective students so they can have an advance view.
  • This syllabus can be an abbreviated version. It is maintained in a folder created by the Distance Learning office and should be submitted to them by the faculty member early in the development process.
  • Provide a course description. Use the course catalog description or a statement describing the nature of the course, what the student can expect to learn, and an overview of course activities.
  • List the course objectives. Faculty must deliver the same content in an online course as they would in a classroom section of the same course. This is very important. The video- or CD-ROM-based or online course should have the same course content with a different delivery style.
  • List course requirements. Make sure the students understand what they will need in order to take the course in terms of computer skills, hardware and software requirements, required access to technologies used in the course, and technical competence required of students in the course.
  • Textbook information is correct and posted with source and supplementary materials listed.
  • If a separate purchase for any additional resources, beyond the textbook, is required, this should be noted in the syllabus. Student should be informed of estimated or average course costs (including access if a web-based course.
  • The selection of technologies is based on appropriateness for the students and the course (e.g. Excel in an accounting course). It is recognized that availability, cost, and other issues are often involved, but course documentation should include specific consideration of the match between technology and the course.
  • Include the course website address.
  • Describe testing procedures.
  • Describe grading procedures.
  • List the course grading scale.
  • Course Ground Rules section should be a reiteration and emphasis of certain rules and course expectations. For example:
    • Participation is required
    • Expected to communicate with other students in team projects
    • Learn how to navigate in My VolState Online
    • Keep abreast of course announcement
    • Use the assigned college or university e-mail address as opposed a personal e-mail address
    • Address technical problems immediately
    • Observe course netiquette at all times
  • Timelines for assignments and faculty response times to electronic communication are included in the course syllabus.
  • E-Mails and Student Questions posed to the faculty need to be responded to in a timely manner. Posted by faculty in syllabus, 24-36 hour response time recommended except weekends.
  • Only list methods of communication on the syllabus that the faculty will actually use. Don't list an email address on the syllabus if you will never check or respond to email.
  • Include guidelines for the type or types of communication to be used. (E-Mail, Discussion or Message Boards, Chat, Fax, Telephone).
  • Include Web Resources related to communication or communication guidelines.
  • Include library contact information students will use in the course. (Telephone numbers, e-mail address, website addresses, etc).
  • Include the institution's recommended statement concerning disabilities.
  • Include a statement that explains how any syllabus changes will be transmitted to the students. (E-Mail, Discussion or Message Board, or other).

Should

  • Syllabus should include complete instructor contact information. Include e-mail address, office hours and phone numbers in the syllabus. Provide alternative departmental contact for students who are unable to reach you.
  • Specify the nature and extent of technical support to be provided to the student.
  • Faculty should clearly define any prerequisites and/or co-requisites.
  • At a minimum, the following should be included:
    • Assignments and/or projects - Ensure that the learning experiences included in the course are appropriate for the outcomes and are challenging to students. The level of achievement expected of students, and tested for in a distance education environment, should be as challenging as that in a classroom-based course.
    • Class Participation and/or Attendance Policies - Clearly define what is "attendance" in a distance education course?
    • Punctuality - Clearly define the course late/missing assignment procedures and/or policies.
Schedule/Calendar

Must

  • Create a course structure that encourages students to complete assignments and projects in a timely fashion. Emphasize time on task. Communicate high expectations. Clearly state learner outcomes and provide students clear road maps of where they are going and what they can expect.
  • Minimums:
    1. assignments w/grading procedures, due dates, etc. (assignments include reading, writing, viewing, performance, etc.)
    2. all dates (weekly or daily schedule and/or calendar)
    3. We should be told when the work is going to be graded. (either in the syllabus, or on the calendar.
  • Establish clear deadlines for work assignments and projects. (and consequences if they are not met.)
  • Provide easy to find and easy to follow directions and instructions for all aspects of the course (projects, discussion assignments, etc.) and course navigation.
  • Course materials and explanations must go together. (Faculty videotapes/CD-ROMs and reading assignments must "connect.")
  • Provide a meeting agenda for each scheduled class.
  • Be on time and plan to use the full meeting time if meetings are scheduled.

Should

  • Spread the assignments over the semester or plan for regular submission of each part of a major assignment. (This will vary by course, but the end of semester should not be "stacked.")
Communication

Must

  • Faculty must be prepared to meet the special requirements of teaching at a distance: Faculty must become proficient in the resource (My VolState Online, FrontPage, Excel, etc.) and communications technology employed in their course.
  • List methods of communication on the syllabus that s/he will actually use. (Don't list an email address on the syllabus if you will never check or respond to email.)
  • Provide students access (by phone, appointment, e-mail, fax, etc.) on a regularly scheduled basis. (Faculty must be very familiar with e-mail. This will be the most common means of communication with students.)
  • Timelines for assignments and faculty response times to electronic communication are included in the course syllabus. (Publish response turnaround expectations in the syllabus and on the WEB in more than one place.)
  • Include office hours and phone numbers in the syllabus or online at a course website.
  • Publish office hours on the web and consistently keep that time open for students. (Provide alternative departmental contact for students who are unable to reach you.)
  • E-Mails and Student Questions posed to the faculty need to be responded to in a timely manner. (24-36 hour response time is recommended, except weekends)
  • Faculty teaching video- or CD-ROM-based or online courses must provide students with timely feedback on assignments and grades as well as responses to questions and requests for assistance. (The faculty member is responsible for finding out students' telephone numbers and e-mail addresses at the beginning of the course. This will help to eliminate some common problems.)
  • All instructors must provide weekly contact with their students.
  • Return assignments within 1 week of receipt. (Return assignments in time for the student to use the feedback to improve the next assignment.
  • If the item being graded is a paper, it should be returned within a week from the due date.)
  • Give students, at least monthly, progress reports and directions for improvement (Distance Education students need feedback more than traditional students.)
  • Post grades under an alias or use the My VolState Online grades feature to decrease the time from submission to feedback, or e-mail the grade to the student with an explanation of what they missed, and what they need to do to correct the error. (Students should be told when work is going to be graded.)
  • Provide opportunities during the term for students to provide feedback on their experience
  • Make sure students have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to complete an end-of-course evaluation.

Should

  • We encourage all instructors to post a "welcome message" on the discussion board.
Course Materials

Must

  • Faculty must deliver the same content in an online course as a classroom section of the same course. This is very important. The online course should have the same course content with a different delivery style. The amount of material covered in a distance education course, and the depth with which it is covered, should equal that of a classroom-based course.
  • The level of achievement expected of students, and tested for in a distance education environment, should be as challenging as that in a classroom-based course.
  • Conduct an orientation for students (or online) at the beginning of the term:
    1. Insure students understand the requirements of the course and can access the course site.
    2. Advise students of the time and energy demands of the course, as well as establishing clear limits on what the course is and is not.
    3. Students must fully understand course requirements and be prepared to succeed. All first-time distance education students should be given a clear statement of course requirements in advance. This includes:
      1. all course requirements,
      2. the weekly time commitment and specific computer skills required by the course, and
      3. a presentation of the practical difficulties of working at a distance and what is needed to manage those challenges successfully.
  • Provide directions for how to use course resources. (In many ways you are a guide to the resources and a simplifier of how to get the right result the first time. How you organize the resources and provide students useful directions and information about using them are critical.)
  • Course materials and explanations must go together. (Faculty videotapes/CD-ROMs and reading assignments must "connect.")
  • Ensure that the learning experiences included in the course are appropriate for the outcomes and are challenging to students.
  • Faculty must provide students with clear communication about expectations, instructions about activities, assignments, deadlines, and announcements.
  • Link coursework to students lives.
  • Use a consistent organizational pattern (module template) that provides students knowledge of the learning objectives, content outline, assignments, evaluation information, resources, links, requirements and FAQs.
  • Guidelines for evaluation are provided and used:
    • objective measures used when possible (i.e., m/c, t/f tests)
    • provide evaluation guidelines for all assignments
    • use a method to explain any assignment reductions in grade or points, i.e., a critique or evaluation sheet
  • Grading procedures are clearly presented.

Should

  • The course should be outlined with a pre-determined number of lessons/units/modules.
  • The instructor should maintain a consistent style from one module to the next.
  • The instructor should define the learning outcomes desired for each module (i.e. Analysis, synthesis, comprehension etc.)
Community

Must

  • Consider three types of interaction you will be creating with the activities you plan:
    1. interaction between the student and the content material,
    2. interaction between the student and you, and
    3. interaction among students in the class.
  • In each case the interaction should be instrumental to success in the course or task. Become familiar with the array of web tools for interaction and select those that best fit what you are trying to accomplish. Talk with training coordinators and online faculty, surf other course sites, look at the courseware tutorials.
  • Close personal interaction must be maintained.
  • Personalize the learning environment so that it feels like a "place" for class. Use an informal but clear writing style that creates complete and encouraging responses.
  • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. (Empathize with students' frustrations with technology and help students adjust to them. A sense of humor and patience would be helpful. Do not single out students for negative comments or belittle the class, as a whole.)
  • Provide a biographical sketch (The instructor may also supply a photograph and vitae.)
  • Respond to concerns and questions promptly. Follow-up on promises, raise questions, check answers, clarify misunderstandings and summarize as needed.
  • Maintain weekly contact with students to praise and encourage their efforts and progress on a regular basis.
  • Give students, at least monthly, progress reports and directions for improvement
    • Supply updates
    • Provide thorough feedback
    • Plan for quick replies
    • Link coursework to students lives
  • Provide opportunities during the term for students to provide feedback on their experiences.

Should

  • To maximize communication electronically, courses should, to the extent possible, incorporate both real-time electronic interchange (chat rooms, discussion groups) and asynchronous forms of communication (e-mail, bulletin boards).
  • Faculty should include a discussion component in the course (this is to be distinguished from a Chat which is an optional component because it requires more planning and synchronous timing with students enrolled.)
  • Chats should be seen as an optional component. A chat session requires students to be present at a common time for real-time discussion of a topic. Chats are not a suggested activity for a faculty member using the Web-CT course for the first time.