SPEAKING OF THE SENATE...
by Mike Scott, Academic Senate President
Distance Education has finally made it through the governance process. It was approved by both Academic Affairs and Campus Executive. Many concerns and issues were brought up at Academic Affairs concerning items within the plan and the structure and leadership of the Distance Education committee. Be assured that all these issues will be addressed when the Distance Education committee is formed and activated. It is important to note that the five-year plan developed by the Senate taskforce is a living document of proposed goals and will be revised, updated, added to, and subtracted from as the committee assesses it each year. The development of the program and plan was necessary in order to bring order to the chaos. All we had was a rapidly growing inventory of online, hybrid and web-enhanced courses with no plan, direction, or defined purpose other than to use a different mode of delivering instruction. Now Distance Education at GCC will have all of this and more. Under the direction of the committee it will be able to ensure that the courses taught meet the same standards of quality as traditionally taught courses that can lead to skill awards, certificates and possibly a few degrees. With each division having representation on the Distance Education committee, all voices will be heard concerning online learning. We need to give this effort a fair chance to succeed. We are not trying to become an online institution such as the University of Phoenix. GCC’s program will be limited in scope and totally voluntary. No one and no department or division will be forced to do online instruction.
The development of this program comes at a time when new guidelines and requirements are being developed at the federal and state levels. The June 2011 Guide to Evaluating Distance Education and Correspondence Education manual has added 166 new questions to the accreditation process. Standard I: Institutional Mission and Effectiveness has 19 questions, Standard II: Student Learning Programs and Services 92 questions, Standard III 50 questions and Standard IV: Leadership and Governance 5 questions. They have also added an additional 10 pages of evidence requirements.
Once the Board approves the plan and program for Distance Education, we can begin the process of giving Distance Education the proper diligence, oversight and resources that it needs to be a high quality and effective program.
The Senate Fall Plenary is the second week of November and has many items of interest to GCC and our students. In the next Chaparral, the most important resolutions that pass will be discussed.
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