University of Houston-Victoria Policy for Online and Distance Education
The definition used for distance education in this document is the one adopted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges:
“For the purposes of the Commission’s accreditation review, distance education is defined as a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet: one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or video cassettes, DVD’s, and CDE-ROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program” (Distance and Correspondence Education: Policy Statement, 2010).
1. Goals for Online and Distance Education
UHV’s goals and operating plan for distance education (Attachment A) flow from and fulfill standing goals and objectives in the university’s strategic plan as well as the university’s mission statement (see http://www.uhv.edu/President/Mission.aspx for the full text of the mission statement and http://www.uhv.edu/Provost/Goals.aspx for the UHV Core Values and Standing Goals).
Annually during regular planning processes, the Office of Academic Affairs will review and revise, if necessary, the operating plan for distance education at UHV. The plan will be consistent with the institution’s mission and goals.
2. Institutional Accommodation
a. All academic units of the university will have an opportunity to participate in providing degree or certificate programs for credit and/or courses for credit delivered via distance education wherever there is a need. The university will assure that the institution’s administrative policies and procedures allow for an effective, efficient distance education support infrastructure.
b. Funding levels and fees will provide sufficient financial resources to initiate and maintain quality distance education courses and programs. Among these resources is the Extended Access and Support Fee, a compulsory fee charged to all students to provide the support needed to ensure quality delivery of off-campus and electronically delivered instruction and services (Attachment B).
c. The Office of the Provost serves as the central repository for distance education program information and support structures. The Provost’s designee will be assigned responsibility for reviewing distance education programs and courses for compliance with SACS and THECB requirements and coordinating efforts of faculty review committees within each of the Schools.
d. The Office of the Provost will ensure UHV’s compliance with laws in other states concerning authorization to provide distance education programs to students in those states. If necessary, the Office of the Provost will prohibit students in some states from enrolling in UHV online classes or limit a program to only Texan students.
3. Degree and Certificate Programs Offered Via Distance Education
a. Programs offered via distance education will be consistent with the role and mission of University of Houston-Victoria and the offering units and will be approved through the usual curriculum approval process. There will be no distinction between programs offered through distance education and those offered in a face-to-face format. Unless otherwise provided, all policies, standards, and guidelines for on-campus instruction apply to programs delivered via distance education.
b. Selection of programs to be offered via distance education is the purview of the appropriate academic unit, which will provide faculty oversight of the program to ensure currency of the program, its courses, and resources. Each program will result in learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree awarded.
c. Once implemented, the offering academic units and the university commit to ongoing support, both financial and technical, and to the continuation of the program for a period of time sufficient to enable admitted students to complete the program as long as financially feasible.
d. Undergraduate degree programs require a 2.0 cumulative grade point average for graduation. Thirty of the last 36 hours will be in residence.
e. Graduate degree programs require a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on all courses appearing on the student’s degree plan. Seventy-five percent of the credit hours will be in residence, unless the credit hours are brought in from a sister university. In that case, only 50% of the credit hours will be in residence.
4. Courses Offered Via Distance Education
a. Courses offered via distance education are academic program courses approved through the usual curriculum approval process. There will be no distinction between courses offered through distance education and those offered in a face-to-face format. Courses offered via distance education will have the same rigor and expected outcomes of face-to-face offerings.
b. Courses delivered via distance education carry the same curriculum prerequisites for University of Houston-Victoria admitted students.
c. The faculty member who designs or redesigns a course for distance learning completes an online course inventory based on guidelines from SACS and the THECB. The course and the inventory are reviewed by a school-wide committee and the appropriate Dean. The review process continues through the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and ends with the Office of the Provost. Annually, the instructor of record for an online course completes the online course inventory to provide documentation that the course is consistent with SACS and THECB guidelines.
d. Students will evaluate courses delivered via distance education using the course evaluation procedures in effect for face-to-face courses. As with campus-based courses, records of evaluations and analyses of evaluations will be used proactively in the enhancement of course offerings.
e. Final examinations in courses delivered via distance education will be taken under the supervision of the instructor or an approved proctor or through the use of other techniques that assure the integrity of the process.
5. Library Support
a. UHV ensures that all distance education students have access to library resources to support appropriately the courses in which the students are enrolled. These services include document delivery, electronic access to reference services, reserves, interlibrary loan, and a web page that includes ready links to services, contacts, and self-help modules.
b. The library will regularly evaluate the effectiveness of resources provided to distance education students and will demonstrate that services are improved where appropriate.
c. Instructors will provide distance education students information about library services.
6. Student Support Services
a. Distance education students will have reasonable and adequate access to the range of student services appropriate to support their successful completion of course work. These services will be comparable to those offered to traditional, on-campus users and will include the following: admissions; bursar’s office; payment processing; bookstore; university catalog; academic advising; technical assistance; registration; withdrawal from courses; financial aid information; academic calendar; services for disabled students (American Disabilities Act of 1990 accommodation); policies, procedures and protocols for taking courses.
b. Assessment outcomes for effective provision of support services will include distance education students.
c. Assessment data for effective provision of learning resources to distance education will be available and regularly evaluated and improved where appropriate.
d. Instructors will provide distance education students information about support services.
7. Faculty and Faculty Services
a. Only qualified faculty members, assigned by the appropriate academic dean or dean’s designee, will teach courses delivered via distance education. Assigned faculty will have the same expertise, experience, rank, etc. as the faculty assigned to face-to-face classes.
b. Faculty retain the responsibility and authority for the academic management and oversight of distance education programs and courses and will have full control of the content of the courses.
c. Faculty retain the authority and responsibility to produce any revised or supplemental materials to maintain or enhance the accuracy and quality of the distance education course. University of Houston System Board of Regents Policy 21.08 defines all intellectual property rights applicable to faculty, staff and students.
d. Faculty who teach through distance education technologies are responsible for acquiring sufficient technical skills to present their subject matter and related material effectively and, as necessary, for consulting with technical support personnel.
e. UHV’s distance education infrastructure will provide development opportunities for faculty to increase their awareness of distance education methodologies and improve their instructional skills. Each faculty member will receive consultation, training, implementation, and evaluation support from instructional design and delivery staff to assure effective, efficient use of the chosen delivery system.
f. UHV will provide adequate equipment, software, and communications access to faculty to support interaction with students.
g. Faculty are responsible for informing students about technical skill prerequisites and required hardware, software, and supplemental materials necessary for course participation in the syllabus.
h. When faculty create or teach distance education courses they will do so as part of their regularly compensated responsibilities to UHV.
i. Policies for faculty evaluation should give equal value to and appropriate recognition of teaching, scholarly activity/creative endeavor, and service related to distance education programs or courses.
j. To document individual and institutional compliance with requirements of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, faculty members teaching a course via distance education will affirm that they are following the “Principles of Best Practice” by completing and submitting the UHV Online Course Inventory for each online course they teach prior to the beginning of the teaching semester.