Curriculum and Instruction
Course Definitions and Modes of Delivery
Definitions of Courses
The Commission on Colleges (COC) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) defines Distance Education in its 2009 Distance and Correspondence Education Policy Statement as follows:
Definition of Distance Education
For the purposes of the Commission’s accreditation review, distance education is 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 CDROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program."
The University Council adopted the following definitions, based on Online Learning Consortium descriptions in order to provide members of the University community with a common language to discuss distance and electronic learning options. These definitions will guide Office of Distance Learning investments and activities for all course types.
Hybrid (50 to 99%)
Hybrid courses are delivered at least 50% online, with the remainder of course meetings delivered face to face. Hybrid courses bring students together only where/when needed, allowing them to engage in asynchronous (anytime / anywhere) learning otherwise. Hybrid instructors typically have a substantial portion of the content and learner engagement delivered online using discussion forums and other electronic collaboration formats to engage students with the content, other students, and the instructor.
An online course has most or all of the content and learner engagement delivered online. Typically, online instructors have no face-to-face meetings. An appropriate variety of media, Internet technologies and collaboration tools, and instructional strategies are used in a systematic design to facilitate student achievement of learning outcomes.
Modes of Electronic Delivery
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette currently utilizes two electronic delivery modes for instruction:
- Compressed Video: Occurs in real time and allows the instructor to communicate with remote site sections of the class via two-way video and two-way audio. Instructors and students hear and see each other live from each site.
- Hybrid and Online: Courses offered via the World Wide Web using learning management software.
The following sections address internal approval processes for the design and delivery of electronic courses by University colleges, departments, full-time faculty, and adjunct faculty.
Web-Enhancing All Courses
- The University of Louisiana at Lafayette strives to deliver 100% of its courses in a Web-Enhanced format. Thus, each instructor is expected to post a minimum of a syllabus on the University Learning Management System (currently Moodle) each semester for each course taught. Web-Enhancing a majority of all courses is one of the University’s continuity of instruction strategies in case of closure due to a catastrophic event, such as a terrorist attack, hurricane, outbreak, or other disaster.
Course & Program Identification/Selection for Electronic Delivery
The design and development of electronic learning credit and non-credit modules, courses, certificates, and programs should follow priorities established by the University as informed by educational requirements, market studies, societal demand, community and business needs, and the competitive advantage of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Offerings may include instruction for undergraduates, those in professional and graduate degree programs or other advanced degree programs, practitioner-oriented programs, specialized training, and K-12 outreach efforts.
A faculty member may or may not need to notify their respective Department Head and the Office of Distance Learning staff when interest exists in developing a new course for electronic delivery.
It is within an instructor’s purview to experiment with new instructional methodologies, including the use of learning technologies, and to modify a face-to-face course to be either web-enhanced or blended without department head approval. Notification Not Required.
Modification of existing courses into a hybrid or online course format involves a "substantive change," and is subject to administrative approval. This approval mechanism allows the University to remain compliant with accreditation standards by tracking and reporting activity on all distance education courses as defined by SACS, the Board of Regents, and the University of Louisiana System. Notification Required.
- It is within an instructor’s purview to experiment with new instructional methodologies, including the use of learning technologies, and to modify a face-to-face course to be either web-enhanced or blended without department head approval. Notification Not Required.
A program may not be delivered electronically (hybrid or online) without prior approval from the University of Louisiana System and the Board of Regents. Approval from the Board will be solicited through the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs through coordinated efforts of the Office of Distance Learning and the respective Academic College and/or Department.
- The selection of a course to be leased or purchased from outside of the University will be made by the Dean of the College, Director of Distance and Electronic Learning, and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Development and Delivery of Locally Produced Electronic Courses
- When the faculty member and the Dean of the College, in consultation with the Director of Distance Learning, agree on a new course for hybrid or online development/delivery, the faculty member will satisfactorily complete designated required faculty certification and the course certification process before the course can be offered. (See Faculty Professional Development section)
- In keeping with AAUP (2006) principles for distance education, the University may provide compensation for electronic course design to faculty for creating new courses and/or adapting course materials originally prepared for the traditional classroom. Updating course content only is a basic responsibility of all faculty members and does not qualify for a stipend. (See Faculty Incentives Section)
Upon Provost approval, the Dean of the College in collaboration with Department Heads will determine if faculty will be given any form of non-financial incentive in order to teach the course.
- Non-financial incentives include release time or course size reduction, or other incentives within the department.
- National research confirms that more time and effort is needed to teach an online course; therefore the Department Head in conjunction with the Dean and the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs will determine the appropriate class size and work load for the individual faculty member.
All hybrid/online courses must use the course management/gateway software package(s) approved by the University.
- This standard does not limit use of additional hardware and software for the successful delivery of electronic courses.
- The policy recognizes the need for those charged with faculty assessment to have access to electronic classrooms, the same as is available with traditional classrooms.
- Adjunct faculty members may be utilized for creating and teaching electronic courses.
Course Content Guidelines
- At a minimum all work required for a course offered by compressed video or online must meet the same standards as the traditional course offered on main campus.
- All electronic courses must adhere to the standards set forth by the Southern Region Electronic Campus (SREC), Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS), the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, program-specific accreditation, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
UL Lafayette participates in Quality Matters’ subscriber-managed peer-review process to certify online or hybrid courses. The peer-review process distinguishes between course "design" and "delivery" in the following definitions:
- Course Design: The forethought and planning that a faculty member puts into the course.
- Course Delivery: The actual teaching of the course and the implementation of the course design.
Course certification is intended to ensure that online and hybrid courses meet national standards of quality course design in the areas of course overview and introduction; learning objectives; assessment and measurement; instructional materials; learning activities and learner interaction; course technology; learner support; and accessibility and usability.
Prior to 2017, UL Lafayette internally reviewed and certified online and hybrid courses using the Quality Matters rubric. This process resulted in over 100 courses earning a university-recognized distinction of quality (ULearn Course Certification seal). By 2019, the University fully transitioned to the Quality Matters subscriber-managed peer-review process which leads to national certification of our online and hybrid courses.
Faculty who teach courses in online or hybrid programs can learn more about the current course review process here.
Development and Delivery of Locally Produced Electronic Programs
(50% or more of the coursework can be completed electronically)
- When a Department Head, and the Dean of the College, in consultation with the Director of Distance Learning, agree on a new program for hybrid or online development, a timeline for course production, program approval (per SACS and Regents policy), and delivery will be developed.
- Approval from the Provost to start production and approval processes will be granted before implementation of the established/revised timeline begins and will follow existing University policies and procedures.
- Each Department Head with the Dean’s approval will determine the appropriate class size for hybrid and online courses. University established course size minimums apply.
- Course sizes may vary by discipline, course by course within a discipline, major by major within a department, and department by department within a college.
- Variations are allowed to consider the vast differences in instructional delivery across and within disciplines while also allowing distance learning to achieve the appropriate economies of scale.
- Course sizes must be published in the schedule of classes and demonstrate alignment with published best practices for delivering electronic courses.
Course Scheduling and Coding
- Scheduling of electronic courses will occur within the same framework and timeline of all other course types delivered by the University, unless otherwise noted herein.
- Appropriate scheduling and identification of electronic courses in the schedule of classes is critical.
Department Heads will be responsible for the following for each course to be delivered electronically before submitting course schedules to the Registrar’s office:
- Identify the type of course - Hybrid or Online
- Identify the course size
- Code the course - HY (hybrid) or OL (online)
- Create special notes to be placed in the course schedule. For example: Students must attend class on the first night or will be dropped. OR This course will not include any face-to-face meetings, but multiple weekly log ins are required. OR The final test for this course must be completed in a proctored environment. Please read your syllabus for instructions for locating an approved proctor site.
Note: Beginning with the fall 2010 schedule, the DL code will no longer be used. It will be replaced by HY and OL.
- All courses must be submitted according to the instructions provided by the University. Any course that does not meet the specified requirements for submission is subject to rejection and removal from the system. Upon approval of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the course will be forwarded to the Board of Regents and the SREB.
- All electronic courses shall have an Instructor identified for the course when submitted for approval. If the instructor is not listed, valid contact information for the department must be provided for prospective students. The department should amend the Instructor information once an instructor has been assigned to the course. Course sections will be identified by the academic department and are subject to change.
Adjunct Faculty Assignment Process
- Adjunct faculty who teach Distance Learning courses will be hired using the existing policies and procedures established at UL Lafayette. There is no difference between an adjunct faculty who teaches in the classroom versus one that uses electronic learning in terms of employment policies and procedures.
- Adjunct faculty members, who are hired or designated to teach electronic courses, will be required to complete some level of CAFÉ training or provide verification that previous training has been achieved.
Assessment of Electronically Delivered Courses and Programs
- Electronic courses should be designed and evaluated according to those standards utilized for regular courses and identified by SREB and SACS.
- Course evaluation standards are approved and maintained by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Assessment of Course Learning Outcomes
Direct assessment of student learning outcomes in electronically delivered courses and reporting of those results is the responsibility of the College, Department, and Course Instructor.
Student Evaluation of Instruction
Course evaluations by students are conducted each semester using an online evaluation. It is the responsibility of Information Systems to ensure that the online mechanism by which the evaluation is conducted is in place. The Office of Institutional Research coordinates all other components of the evaluation including the request of Information Systems to activate/deactivate the system and disseminates results.
Faculty will be evaluated in accordance with standards and procedures set forth in the Faculty Handbook for non-electronic courses.