Center for Distributed Learning

UCF Distributed Learning Guidelines

Center for Distributed Learning
University of Central Florida

Distributed Learning Guidelines
Revised Nov. 23, 2009; Nov. 30, 2011, Feb. 7, 2012

1. Principles of Good Practice

UCF adheres to The Principles of Good Practice as defined by the Southern Regional Education Board for the Electronic Campus (SREC). The principles draw upon the work of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and other governing bodies that oversee distance education programs (Ex. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).  All UCF distributed learning courses and programs listed in the Electronic Campus have been reviewed against the organization’s Principles of Good Practice.

2. Faculty Development

Well-trained, prepared and supported faculty members are critical to delivery of quality distributed learning courses and student success. Therefore, the university provides several faculty development to prepare faculty to teach distributed learning courses.  Those programs from the Center for Distributed Learning provide faculty members with development and support for teaching Web-based (W), Mixed-Mode (M), and Streaming Video (V and RV) courses.

3. Faculty Qualifications.

Faculty members who deliver W, M, V, and RV modality courses receive the support and resources of the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) and Computer Services and Telecommunications (CS&T). Those faculty members that are recognized as qualified to teach M or W courses are certified under the following conditions:

  • Successful completion of the IDL 6543 faculty development course,
  • Successful completion of the ADL 5000 faculty development course, or
  • Sufficient prior academic experience in online teaching as determined by the Assistant Vice President of Distributed Learning.

Faculty members who seek to develop and/or teach courses in a V or RV streaming video modality are recognized as qualified by successful completion of the IDV Essentials faculty development course.

The Assistant Vice President of Distributed Learning can grant exceptions to these faculty development requirements, consistent with the following process.

Faculty members who desire to develop and/or teach distributed courses independent of support from the Center for Distributed Learning must have approval from their Department Chair and Dean before offering the course online. The College and Department must be prepared to provide full support for the faculty member and the learners in the course(s). This is an accreditation requirement that cannot be waived. Full support according to accreditation guidelines includes the provision of a suitable, reliable server, licensed software, faculty training, learner training and support, and assurance that the Principles of Good Practice referenced in this document are fully adhered to. The college will be required to sign an AA-23 form that documents this commitment. The Dean will provide to the Assistant Vice President of Distributed Learning documentation indicating compliance with these standards along with a recommendation that the course is approved to be offered online. The Assistant Vice President will then determine if the request from the College or Department meets the Principles of Good Practice, is in compliance with accreditation standards, and, ultimately, whether the courses may be offered online.

Furthermore, faculty who propose to provide Web courses or Web-based program delivery as part of a grant or contract must submit this intention to the Center for Distributed Learning after approval from the chair of the faculty member’s department. The Center for Distributed Learning will ascertain that either the Center for Distributed Learning or the college technical support office is prepared to provide the required support for these courses. The purpose of this requirement is to avoid commitments of university resources without identifying the source and funding for these resources within the university.

4. Evaluation and Assessment

Student evaluations of instructors (Student Perception of Instruction) are conducted online for all distributed learning courses in the same manner as for classroom-based courses. The Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness (RITE) provides faculty support for assessing instructional effectiveness in distributed learning courses and provides university administrators with information on the impact of distributed learning on faculty, students, and the institution. Longitudinal research includes student demographics, withdrawal and retention rates, success rates, student and faculty satisfaction, and student reactive behavior patterns.

5. Distributed Learning Delivery Modalities

UCF is a leader in the use of digital media and computer technologies in instruction. Students are advised that any course may require the use of a computer, computer labs, e-mail, the World Wide Web, or other digital resources and support software.

The principal distributed learning delivery modalities at UCF and their respective class schedule descriptions are:

5.1 Video streamed courses are digitally recorded, sometimes during live face-to-face class sessions and sometimes as standalone video courses. These digital recordings are made available for on-demand streaming over the Internet. All faculty who wish to teach via one of the video modalities must work with CDL to ensure that they receive the required training and support, in accordance with accreditation guidelines.

The official PeopleSoft codes related to video streaming delivery modalities are:

Video Streaming (V) — courses delivered over the Web via streaming digital video, which may be supplemented by additional Web activity, projects or exams.

Video Streaming/Reduced Seat Time (RV) — classroom-based content is available over the Web via streaming video and classroom attendance is not required.  Other required activities that substitute for video instruction may include any of the following elements: Web activity, in-person or proctored examinations, and labs.   See course notes for details.

5.2 Interactive television delivery has been discontinued as a university-supported modality as of June 30, 2009.

5.3 Web-based instruction describes fully Web-based courses that are delivered through the Internet and are accessible anywhere, anytime. They may include minimal face-to-face requirements such as campus attendance, clinical experiences or proctored examinations.

In addition, Mixed-mode courses combine Web delivery and synchronous or live class delivery where the Web-based instruction substitutes for some face-to-face class time (for example: a 3-hour M course will now have one or two live class meetings per week rather than the usual three). Instruction via these modes conforms to the technology and pedagogical practices promulgated by UCF’s Distributed Learning Faculty Development programs (e.g., IDL 6543 and ADL 5000).

Support for the development of Web-based courses and programs is provided to faculty through a collaborative planning process with the colleges and departments and guided by the Assistant Vice President of Distributed Learning.

Web-based courses require time and resources to produce. New courses may be developed through funding provided through the Center for Distributed Learning for faculty participation in IDL 6543. Academic departments are given the option of granting either a one-course release or a dual compensation contract to the participating faculty member during the term in which the course is being developed. If choosing a course release, the compensation amount will be transferred directly to the academic department. Faculty must successfully complete IDL 6543 to qualify for funds disbursement.

The Center for Distributed Learning also offers specialized training–specifically ADL 5000–for instructors who are preparing to take over and teach a pre-existing W or M class. The resources of CDL will be available to faculty both during the development of the course and its first offering. Web-based courses are delivered via UCF’s enterprise learning management system and supported by Computer Services and CDL.

The official modality codes related to the Web-based delivery mode are:

World Wide Web (W) — courses conducted via Web-based instruction and collaboration. Some courses may require minimal campus attendance or  in-person/proctored examinations.

Mixed Mode/Reduced Seat Time (M) — courses include both required classroom attendance and online instruction. Classes have substantial activity conducted over the Web, which will substitute for some classroom meetings.

1.5.4 Florida Statute 1009.24(17) states thatin order to qualify for the distance learning course fee, at least 80% of the direct instruction of online courses must be delivered via distance technologies.  All V, RV, and W courses are submitted to and listed with the Electronic Campus of the Florida Distance Learning Consortium (FDLC), and the associated student credit hours are assessed a supplemental distance learning course fee. Academic departments and faculty members must ensure that all V, RV, and W courses comply with this 80% threshold.

6. The Definition of An Online Credit Hour

UCF’s definition of a credit hour can be found in the current Undergraduate Catalog under Academic Regulations and Procedures. An online credit hour represents the equivalent amount of work as a credit hour in any other modality. For example, online readings, interactions, tests, group work, watching videos, and other course components combined with offline textbook readings, homework, papers, projects and other assignments/activities require the same amount of engagement and expected work for the online student as for a traditional student in the same course. The expectations for a credit hour remain the same regardless of modality.

7. Oversight of Accreditation Standards – Distributed Learning Course Delivery

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, which has published a policy statement related to distance learning. The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for determining that the guidelines are met. The specific areas of the guidelines that must be addressed include: Curriculum and Instruction, Library and Learning Resources, Student Services, and Facilities and Finances. The oversight of systems that support distributed learning programs resides with the Assistant Vice President of Distributed Learning.