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5.1.6.p.2. Procedure: Southeastern Technical College Online and Hybrid Course Credit Hour Assignment Procedure

Southeastern Technical College conforms to the commonly accepted practice in higher education for determining credit hour awards for courses and programs. The credit hour procedure for distance education is consistent with the standards of courses offered through face-to-face instruction, although some or all of the content, and faculty to student interaction, occurs at a distance.

PURPOSE
The purpose of this procedure is to provide guidelines for the assignment of credit hours to hybrid and online courses and to show the process is consistent with traditional or lectured-based courses.

DEFINITIONS
  • Online: refers to students who complete 100% of the required contact hours completely online except for proctored events or required class meetings.
  • Hybrid: requires students to complete a minimum of 60% of the required contact hours traditionally by attending classes on campus while completing the remaining portion through distance education means at the students convenience with respect to the instructors requirements.
  • Georgia Virtual Technical Connection (GVTC): a statewide consortium of technical colleges. GVTC brings together the resources of 22 technical colleges, providing support to instructors and working together to keep costs of high quality online instruction down by sharing the burden equally.
  • Master Review Team: a team comprised of instructors, deans, and vice presidents, who review online and hybrid courses to determine if the course meets all requirements as outlined on the STC Master Review Checklist.
  • Master Shell: a template that instructors import into their Blackboard courses after it has been approved by a Master Review Team member, which includes a variety of content that is required to be present in all hybrid and online courses. This ensures that courses are structured similarly and that students have access to all necessary resources.
  • Blackboard: the platform that GVTC and STC utilize for the development, adoption, and implementation of online and hybrid courses.
  • Institutional Review Process Form (IRP): a form that an instructor must complete and submit along with the course syllabus to the respective dean for new online and hybrid courses even if the courses have been previously offered online or hybrid by another faculty member.
  • Instructional Process Evaluation Instrument Form (IPEI): a form that the Deans of Academic Affairs use to evaluate online courses.
  • SPIRIT (Strategic Planning, Improvements, Results, and Implementation through Teamwork): STC's web-based, database planning/assessment system.
PROCEDURES
General

  • Instructors are required to utilize the approved online or hybrid syllabus template, which includes the course competencies.
  • Institutional syllabi for hybrid and online courses are posted on the S Drive for deans to assess and review.
  • As applicable, the Dean will compare the hybrid or online course syllabus to the same course taught face-to-face to ensure course competencies are the same and activities/assignments are comparable for the courses.
  • The Dean will request additional information from the instructor of the course as needed.
  • The Dean will confirm the course meets the credit hours required by the TCSG curriculum.
  • Instructors are required to utilize the approved online or hybrid master shell template when creating courses.
Philosophy
  • TCSG and/or STC courses are developed to be implemented through various modalities. The standard method is traditional face-to-face. The choice of modality is determined by the College.
  • Hybrid and online courses differ from lecture-based or traditional face-to-face courses in the way instructional time is interpreted. Hybrid and online courses must incorporate sufficient academic engagement at a distance in order to meet the same competencies and student learning outcomes expected in traditional courses.
  • For purposes of this procedure, categories of course approval will be assigned as follows:

    • Online
    • Hybrid
Best Practices
  • STC requires that all online courses include a minimum of five discussion forum assignments where students respond to questions or scenarios posted by their instructor. Students are also required to respond to other student responses to ensure both student-to-instructor and student-to-student interaction.
  • These discussion assignments employ the use of a grading rubric and are incorporated into the grading system of the students overall grade.
Criteria
  • Online
  • Before an instructor can offer an online course, he/she must submit an Institutional Review Process Form (IRP) along with the course syllabus to their respective dean to review in advance of the semester in which the course is to be offered. The Dean will review the IRP and the course syllabus/lesson plan for accuracy and give final approval signature.
  • One online course review per instructor will take place each fiscal year. The course will be assigned a reviewer from The Master Review Team, who will review the course to ensure that all requirements are met as outlined on the STC Master Review Checklist.
  • The respective Dean is responsible for reviewing and examining the online course syllabus to confirm that the assignments are comparable to the face-to-face course and course competencies are the same.
  • The Dean will review instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction to ensure learning is not taking place in isolation and that students are academically engaged.
  • Examples of activities which promote student academic engagement may include but are not limited to the following: completing and submitting an online assignment, taking an examination, performing proctored events, completing an interactive tutorial, utilizing computer-assisted instruction, reading, conducting research, participating in group activities, contributing to an academic online discussion, and initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.
  • During the semester, the Deans will evaluate various online courses by completing the Instructional Process Evaluation Instrument (IPEI).
  • Hybrid
  • Before an instructor can offer a hybrid course, he/she must submit an Institutional Review Process Form (IRP) along with the course syllabus to their respective dean to review in advance of the semester in which the course is to be offered. The Dean will review the syllabi and lesson plan to ensure that a minimum of 60% of the course is taught traditionally. The lesson plan must indicate which activities are performed traditionally and which activities are performed online. The activities taking place online should ensure that students are academically engaged. The Dean will give final approval signature.
  • Examples of activities which promote student academic engagement may include but are not limited to the following: completing and submitting an online assignment, taking an examination, completing an interactive tutorial, utilizing computer-assisted instruction, reading, conducting research, participating in group activities, contributing to an academic online discussion, and initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.
  • One hybrid course review per instructor will take place each fiscal year. The course will be assigned a reviewer from The Master Review Team, who will review the course to ensure that all requirements are met as outlined on the STC Master Review Checklist.
  • The respective Dean is responsible for reviewing and examining the hybrid course syllabus to confirm that the assignments are comparable to the face-to-face course and course competencies are the same.
  • During the semester, the Deans will evaluate hybrid courses.

RESPONSIBILITY
  • The course instructor is responsible for an accurate and articulate institutional course syllabus.
  • The respective Dean is responsible for reviewing and examining the hybrid or online course syllabus to confirm that the assignments are comparable to the face-to-face course and course competencies are the same.
  • STC does not require separate student achievement data by mode of instruction; however, instructors who teach a course face-to-face and online or hybrid may compare the success of student learning outcomes and retention rates by the different modes of delivery in STC's web-based, database planning/assessment system called SPIRIT (Strategic Planning, Improvements, Results, and Implementation through Teamwork).

INSTITUTIONALLY DEVELOPED COURSE
A process is followed on the rare occasion that STC creates a course that is not at the time a TCSG approved course. In this instance, Southeastern Technical College adheres to The Technical College System of Georgia's Policy IV.H., Structure of Associate Degree, Diploma, and Technical Certificate of Credit Programs. This policy delineates the minimum/maximum number of semester credit hours allowed for each program.

When a need for a new course is determined, a committee is formed by the appropriate dean. The committee researches internal data and literature. A list of competencies is identified and appropriate instructional minutes are assigned to each competency. The minutes are added to determine the total contact hours for the course. Credit hours are determined as defined by the U.S. Department of Education and followed by the TCSG Policy IV.H., Structure of Associate Degree, Diploma, and Technical Certificate of Credit Programs. The new course must receive approval from Faculty Council, Executive Council, and the Technical College System of Georgia.

References
Exhibit: Instructional Process Evaluation Instrument Form
Exhibit: Institutional Review Process form (IRP)

Adopted: January 26, 2012
Reviewed: September 15, 2016; September 18, 2017;
Revised: July 16, 2018;