Millersville University, Faculty Senate

Attachment #2
Faculty Senate Minutes
December 2, 2003

Re: Distance Learning Approval Process
To: Faculty Senate
From: Robert K. Wismer, Senator, Chemistry Department
Date: 2 December 2003

I propose that the approval process for distance learning be modified slightly. The current policy reads: "6.d.3. If the DL course is a new course, it continues through the University course approval process. If it is an existing course, departmental approval is sufficient."

I propose that the last sentence becomes, "If it is an existing course, the addition of the DL designation is considered a minor change."

Rationale: I make this motion for three reasons.

  1. The first is simplicity. We currently have two methods of approving course changes, major and minor. Major changes require approval of Faculty Senate. Minor changes require approval of the school/division curriculum committee. I believe that UCPRC made a mistake and created potential confusion in creating another method of approval.

  2. When UCPRC was asked to craft a DL policy, the committee needed to educate itself about distance learning. A major concern that arose at the beginning of our education was that Millersville faculty might be overly enthusiastic in presenting courses via distance learning. We were concerned that quality might erode. That does not seem to have happened.

    UCPRC did not consider the appearance that quality was eroding. With several DL courses, there has been concern among faculty outside the originating department of the quality of the offering. In virtually all of these cases, an explanation of the content of the course has allayed the concerns. In other words, merely explaining the content of the course and its mode of offering to a wider audience can put concerns to rest.

    The curriculum committee approval process offers that wider audience, and it also provides an immediacy of action that Faculty Senate approval does not.

  3. Approval by division/school curriculum committee also assures that the DL proposal is fully thought through. One's departmental colleagues are apt to approve a proposal based upon the proposer's known ability as an instructor in the discipline. The school/divisional curriculum committee focuses more on the proposal itself and ensures that it will persuade a wider audience as being academically viable. (I write this as the author of a recent proposal that was substantially approved by its review by school curriculum committee.)

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