Distance Learning Policies, Standards, & Quality

To provide high quality distance learning opportunities for students, GRCC commits to a series of guidelines, standards, and principles that outline best practices in the design, development, administration, and leadership of distance education programs. The college has also began to use self-study practices such as the recent online student research project.  Furthermore, the establishment of distance learning related policies provide operational cohesivness to the program.

In addition, insitutional memberships provide additional resources that enable the college to stay current, innovative, distinctive, and focused on emerging technologies as they relate to best practices for the next generation of teaching and learning.

GRCC Distance Learning Standards

The GRCC DL standards were established early in college's distance learning program and link directly to best practices provided by the NEA (National Education Association) "Quality On the Line: Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education" publication as well as the "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" were created by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda Gamson.

Instructor Certification - GRCC instructors who teach online are certified through the Online and Hybrid Certification Course (OHCC).  This 5 week course is offered through the Center for Teaching and Excellence.  The syllabus for the OHCC course is available here.

Course Design and Development - The GRCC Course Development Rubric is used as a standard of assessment for new online courses that have been approved by Deans Council.  This rubric is used, along with peer assessment and evaluation before a course is offered in the online or hybrid format.

Guiding Standards & Best Practices

Higher Learning Commission
The "Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs" report from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools includes 5 key areas such as: Institutional commitment, curriculum and instruction, faculty support, student support, and evaluation and assessment.  "Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (On-line Learning)" is the latest set of standards that includes 9 hallmarks of quality.

Institute for Higher Education Policy
The Quality On the Line: Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education report was commissioned by the National Education Association and Blackboard Inc. and lincludes 24 benchmarks. These guidelines cover Curriculum and Instruction, Evaluation and Assessment, Library and Learning Resources, Student Services, Facilities and Finances.

Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education
The CAS guidelines and standards focus on enhancing the quality of students learning experiences in higher education.  Distance Learning Programs is highlighted along with campus and college standards that are related to establishing a quality student learning experience.

Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education Programs
"The Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education Programs (Online Learning) were developed by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) and are based on two documents: a 2006 report prepared by the U.S. General Accounting Office, Evidence of Quality in Distance Education Drawn from Interviews with the Accreditation Community, and Best Practice Strategies to promote Academic Integrity in Online Education, prepared by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET).  This publication replaces Distance Learning Programs: Interregional Guidelines for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs (2002).

Quality Matters Member
This is a nationally recognized program that includes processes such as: peer review, an assessment rubric, and a series of tools that are useful in establishing a core set of benchmarks for enhancing online course quality.  GRCC has became a member of this program as of June, 2012.  The QM rubric was used in the development of GRCC's Online Course Readiness Rubric.  (Note: The Online Course Readiness Rubric was also based on the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program standards as well as GRCC's own Distance Learning Standards.)

Blackboard Exemplary Course Program
This program provides an extensive rubric, peer review, and assessment process that establishes a quality framework for online course design and delivery.  The DLIT team provides assistance to faculty in the process of developing courses and in the facilitation of the process of submitting courses for review in this quality program.  Finally, several faculty at GRCC have served as course reviewers in this well respected program.

Guiding Principles

The Seven Principles
The "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" were created by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda Gamson. They were originally published in 1987 and portray education as active, cooperative, and demanding (Chickering, p. 5). Good teaching supports active learning, interaction, feedback, standards, time on task and diverse learning styles.

Technology as Lever
The main point of this learning activity is that these principles can be applied in a variety of academic settings. For example, technology can leverage the number of interactions that take place outside the traditional classroom. To see what we mean, read Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever by Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann.