UNDERGRADUATE COURSE AND PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE
PROPOSED DISTANCE LEARNING APPROVAL PROCESS
HISTORY At its summer 1998 meeting, Faculty Senate charged the Undergraduate Course and Program Review Committee (UCPRC) with developing a process for approving courses offered by distance learning. UCPRC began considering the issues during the fall 1998 semester. UCPRC solicited the thoughts of faculty through an e-mail message to department chairs in late September 1998. In early October, Drs. Diane Umble (Virtual Univ.), Richard Kerper (GCPRC), Richard Frerichs (TEC), and Robert Wismer (UCPRC) arrived at a tentative process that was blended with the ideas of UCPRC and the responses from faculty chairs. The resulting first version of the DL approval process was circulated through e-mail to faculty senators and department chairs in late November 1998. Their comments were considered by UCPRC in producing a second version, which was also circulated by e-mail in late February 1998. The comments that resulted from that second version suggested changes that are incorporated in this third version, which UCPRC passed by consensus at its regular meeting on 9 March 1999.
This third version of the process now is submitted to Senate for debate and possible adoption.
DEFINITIONS Distance learning (abbreviated DQ is taken to indicate a method of instruction when instructor and student are physically separate from each other. It can include, for instance, video conferencing, web-based learning, and correspondence courses.
CONCERNS There are a number of concerns that have been raised with regard to distance learning. These include, not necessarily in order of importance: (1) Ensuring that the student is academically honest: that s/he is who s/he claims to be, that her/his work is hers/his own, that the work of the course is completed in the prescribed manner, etc.; (2) Maintaining the quality of offerings by Millersville University and not permitting trivial courses to be offered; (3) Assisting faculty in presenting courses in this manner, specifically providing them with the advice and resources they need to present a DL course; (4) Using new technology effectively, not just converting a course to a DL format because it would be different but because the DL format offers advantages that traditional formats do not; (5) Ensuring that faculty do not spend considerable effort developing DL course materials with no recognition; (6) Obtaining compensation-in the form of release time, financial renumeration, additional equipment, etc.-for the faculty member who develops a DL course; and many others.
APPROVAL PROCESS This approval process does not attempt to solve all problems associated with DL. In part, this is because UCPRC does not possess the expertise to solve these problems. In part, this is because these problems do not fall within the purview of UCPRC. For instance, the ownership of materials developed to offer a DL course is not a curricular matter, but probably a copyright matter. In addition, this process deals with courses that originate at Millersville and does not consider the approval of DL courses offered by other institutions; that is possibly an Academic Policies matter.
Furthermore, this process of approval regards DL as a method of instruction that uses technology to present 'information. Faculty are presently learning how to use this technology effectively. Eventually it will be incorporated into the repertoire of the effective and efficient instructor, somewhat in the way that an overhead projector has become incorporated into the range of available technologies. When that time arrives, probably within five to ten years, this process of DL approval should fade away.
A. COURSES TO BE APPROVED
All courses that use distance learning as the principal means of instruction are to be approved by this process. This includes courses that already have been approved to be offered by traditional means and courses that have been provisionally approved on an experimental basis for distance learning. If there is any question whether a particular proposal needs to have its distance learning component approved, one should err on the side of caution and request approval. A new course is to be approved by the traditional course approval process as well as by the distance learning process.