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  Developing Distance Education Definitions and Guidelines


Laura Glabrenner, Chair

Sondra Kekec

Vickie Morgan

Dan Jaycox

Andrea Yates

Diana Stuart


Launched March 2015

  1. Briefly describe the project in less than 100 words. Be sure to identify the key organizational areas (departments, programs, divisions, units, etc.) and key organizational processes that this action project will affect, change, and/or improve.

The purpose of this action project is to clarify the definitions and requirements for web and hybrid courses for the Distance Education Program. Mineral Area College has expanded its Distance Education Program and clearer classifications are needed to define the roles of instructors and responsibilities of students in web and hybrid courses. Specifically, the committee will address the issue of face-to-face components in web courses and the in-person/online time ratio for hybrid courses. Students and staff will have clearer parameters for requirements for distance-delivered courses.

2:Describe your institution’s reasons for initiating this action project now and for how long it should take to complete it. Why are this project and its goals high among your institution’s current priorities? Also, explain how this project relates to any strategic initiatives or challenges described in the institution’s recent or soon-to-be submitted systems portfolio.


The College has experienced fairly rapid expansion in its Distance Education program with an average of 25 percent of students currently taking online classes. 



    SP 2014



    Percent Students












    FA 2014



    Percent Students













Consequently, MAC is working to ensure the quality and consistency of its online programs.  This project is one in a series of action projects dedicated to improving Distance Education.  Although the College is fairly consistent in its web class parameters, MAC believes that some clarification must be made with more specific requirements for web and especially hybrid classes. This project should take approximately six to twelve months for processes to be developed, stakeholders to be involved, administration to have input, and the board to take action. 

This action project is high among the College’s priorities because Distance Education student retention is a concern for the College, and internal research suggests that many students in online and hybrid classes are at risk of being unsuccessful. The College feels that clarifying the definitions of online and hybrid courses will help students choose the delivery format appropriate for their academic preparation. 

3:List the project goals, milestones, and deliverables along with corresponding metrics, due dates, and other measures for assessing the progress for each goal. Be sure to include formal evaluations when the project progress will be reviewed.:




    Due Date


    Examine other institutions distance education guidelines

    One month into the project

    The committee will have an understanding of how other community colleges define distance education courses.

    Analyze Higher Learning Commission and Department of Education’s distance education requirements in more detail.

    One month into the project

    The committee will have guidelines to follow when drafting revisions to the current definitions.

    Seek input from all departments that offer distance education options.

    One month into the project

    The committee will have an understanding of current campus practices in distance education.

    Survey students about distance education preferences and expectations.

    Two months into project

    The committee will have stakeholder input to evaluate consistency and awareness in distance education offerings.

    Revise the current set of definitions, addressing specifically the issues of required in-person elements in online courses and ratios of face-to-face and online requirements in hybrid courses.

    Two months into project

    The committee will have a first draft of definitions.

    Seek faculty input on definitions by using a survey or focus groups.

    Three months into project

    The committee will use faculty feedback to further shape the definitions.

    Review progress on project.

    Five months into project

    The committee will reconvene in August to evaluate progress and to plan moving forward.

    Revise definitions and present definitions to Faculty Forum for approval.

    Six months into project

    (Due to summer break)

    After using student and faculty feedback, the committee will ask for faculty forum approval to move to the next step in the approval process.

    Seek approval from Deans’ Council.

    Seven months into project

    The committee will submit the definitions to the Deans’ Council for approval.

    Seek approval from President’s Cabinet.

    Eight months into project

    The committee will present definitions to the President’s cabinet for approval.

    Seek approval from Board of Trustees to adopt new definitions.

    Nine to twelve months into project

    The committee will present definitions to the Board of Trustees for approval. The definitions will be adopted and added to the next catalog and additional publications.





































4:Describe how various members of the learning community will participate in this action project. Show the breadth of involvement by individuals and groups over the project’s duration.:

A:This project includes a wide spectrum of faculty, staff, and administration.  The current and former LMS directors are part of the project, as are three Arts and Sciences Faculty, two Career and Technical Education faculty, and the Associate Dean of Instruction who oversees Distance Education.  This group of individuals have expertise in creating, teaching, and evaluating both web and hybrid classes. 

Throughout the process of drafting the definitions, the committee will solicit input from faculty members and students. Students who are currently enrolled will be surveyed on expectations in and perceptions of online and hybrid courses. 

5:Describe how the institution will monitor project progress/success during, and at the completion of this project. Be sure to specifically state the measures that will be evaluated and when.:


The committee will hold monthly meetings during the academic year and keep in contact through email. The committee will collaborate by using documents in Google to share research findings and definitions.  A draft of the revised definitions will be completed by the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. The committee will reconvene at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year and revise the definitions as needed before proceeding through the appropriate approval track. Once the definitions are approved and implemented, the committee will survey students again to assess the awareness and consistency of online and hybrid courses. 


6:Describe the challenges that may be encountered in successfully completing the project or for institutionalizing the learning from the project’s goals.:


One of the biggest challenges facing this project is the timeline for the project. This project is launching in the middle of the spring semester, which means the committee will have limited contact time with faculty before summer recess.  This may cause implementation to be delayed.  The definitions need to be set (estimated for November 2015) prior to fall 2016 enrollment.


7:Provide any additional information that the institution wishes for reviewers to understand regarding this action project.:


The College feels that by clarifying the definitions of online and hybrid courses, instructors will have more clearly set guidelines to follow, and students will experience greater consistency in the Distance Education environment.