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eLearning Guidelines


eLearning Policy Statement  
Gadsden State Community College uses a variety of course delivery methods to better meet student needs. Courses may be offered online, in a hybrid (blended) format, or via video teleconference.  Regardless of the course delivery method, the quality of teaching and learning is equivalent to traditional classroom courses taught on campus. eLearning students achieve the same learning goals, objectives, and competencies as described in the Alabama College System’s course descriptions. 

It is the policy of Gadsden State Community College to offer eLearning classes in a variety of formats: 

  1. Online Courses:
    1. Blackboard Courses (instructor developed and/or text supplied content)
    2. Hybrid Courses (partially online and partially onsite)
  2. Video Teleconference Courses


Principles of Good Practice

Gadsden State Community College eLearning adheres to the Principles of Good Practice as defined by Southern Association For Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus (SREB). The Principles of Good Practice are designed to assist institutions in planning eLearning activities and serve as a self-assessment framework for those already involved. Supported by the American Association for Higher Education, the Education Commission of the States, and The Johnson Foundation, Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson compiled fifty years of research on good teaching practices. Chickering & Gamson's "The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" emerged as fundamental research in this area. Gadsden State Community College eLearning also encourages the implementation of these practices.

SACS Distance and Correspondence Education Policy Statement

Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs

SREB Principles of Good Practice

Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

Sloan's 5 Pillars of Quality Online Education


Communication Guidelines

Design of the eLearning course takes into consideration the need for and importance of interaction between faculty and students and among students. Forms of interaction include:  email, instant messaging, chat, threaded discussions, blogs, wikis, voice-over IP, video conferencing, telephone, fax, and face-to-face meetings.  Good communication is a key factor in student retention and success; students who feel engaged are more likely to complete the course and enjoy their eLearning experience. Therefore it is important to consider the methods of interaction that will be used. Visit the Online Pedagogy and Engagement for suggestions on adding interactivity to your eLearning class. Instructors should establish and provide to the student a Communication Policy. This policy should contain reasonable response times for responses to student comments/questions along with virtual office hours and times of unavailability. The recommended response time is within a 24 hour period.


Student Assessment Guidelines

eLearning courses should utilize various methods of student evaluation:  online testing, on-campus or proctored testing at approved off-campus sites, research assignments, group assignments, individual assignments, essays, quizzes, portfolios, and case studies. 

  • Assessments allow students to demonstrate what they know or can do.
  • Assessment measures the extent to which students have realized the course objectives.
  • Assessment tasks should be written as soon as objectives are determined and before preparation of content.
  • The assessment and objectives will guide content preparation.

For each assessment you create, ask:

  • is it relevant to the unit's stated objectives?
  • is the purpose clear?
  • is the wording/structure clear?
  • are the tests manageable?

Students should be fully informed about the criteria, content, and methods of each assessment – and when possible, examples should be provided.

As each assessment is developed, plan for the 4 R’s: student reinforcement, review, repetition, remediation.


On-Campus Visits for Online Courses

The eLearning Committee acknowledges the Higher Education Opportunity Act and recommends limiting the number of on-campus visits for online classes. Also, it is the recommendation of the committee that if an online class requires on-campus meetings, this should be noted prior to registration.  Notification should be made on the schedule each semester within the “19 characters” for Extra Class Information.  See examples notifications below:

# Site/proctor mtg

# In-Person Meetings


eLearning Course Evaluation

 At the end of each semester, students will be asked to complete a Summative Evaluation, eLearning Evaluation Form to ensure the quality of eLearning classes.  Also, online classes and hybrid classes will be evaluated annually by a peer, the appropriate Department Chair, and/or eLearning Administration. See the Quality Matters Rubric.

The use of Formative Evaluations is also encouraged. Formative Evaluations are ongoing throughout the instructional process and are generally administered to ensure that the course will achieve its stated goals. An instructor may administer an online survey at mid-term that focuses on the course strengths/weaknesses, technical/delivery concerns, and/or content areas in need of further coverage for mid-course modifications. Midterm Assessment Process.


Copyright Policies  
Review the Gadsden State Community College’s policy regarding internet use:

Policy on Computer Use and Internet Access

Copyright infringement and plagiarism considerations are the same for eLearning courses as for traditional classroom courses. Instructors should be aware that web pages, graphics, and other documents are "owned" material, and as such, they may be copied as "printed" material. eLearning instructors should strictly adhere to the applicable laws and encourage students to do the same. Copyright infringement occurs when documents or other items are published in some way (online or printed) without written permission of the owner. 

“Fair Use” laws apply to web page publications. Section 110 of the Copyright Act allows the “performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution.” If an instructor wishes to use a copyrighted work that is not considered under the “Fair Use” policy, or if there is a question regarding a work’s copyright status, then the instructor should contact Gadsden State Community College's Library Services, to aid in obtaining permission to use the work from its owner or licensing organization.

Copyrighted works should not be revised, commercialized, or derivatives created without written permission of the owner. Gadsden State Community College will not interfere with measures used by copyright holders to protect their copyrighted works

Review the TEACH ACT for information regarding eLearning and copyright law.

Distance Education and the TEACH Act

Visit the United States Copyright Office site for additional information concerning copyright and education.  The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) is a good place to begin.

United States Copyright Office


Intellectual Property Policy  
Copyright, Trademark, and Patent Ownership

1. An employee has the right to trademark or copyright any literary material and to patent any inventions unless duties of the employment contract or program agreement charges the employee with, or includes, the duty of producing material for the institution to copyright or trademark, or to develop an invention for the institution to patent.

2. The employee shall be entitled to all profits earned from copyrighted or trademarked materials or patented inventions developed exclusively on the employee's time and without the use of institution funds, materials, or facilities.

3. Copyrighted or trademarked material or patented inventions developed totally or partially on institution time with the use of institution materials or facilities or with institution funding shall be owned by the institution.

Guidelines for Policy
The development by a instructor of an instructional text or other instructional resources or technology partially on his/her own time and expense and partially on institution time using institution resources results in the complete and exclusive ownership by the institution of all resulting copyrights and/or patents. Under certain circumstances, however, the institution may distribute a portion of the royalties received from the publication and/or sale and/or use of the instructional text or other instructional resources or technology in a manner that is reasonable and that will not conflict with applicable state or federal laws or other State Board of Education policies. The following conditions must be met:

A. The institution must have or must implement a policy by which all instructors who develop a marketable instructional text or other instructional resources or technology are treated on an equal and fair basis with regard to any compensation supplemental to the instructors’ pay.

B. Any such payment of additional compensation made to the instructor must be made solely from the proceeds derived from the publication, sale, or distribution of the instructional text or other instructional resources or technology, and not from any other state or federal funds.

C. The portion of any royalties to be received by an instructor must have a direct relationship to the verifiable amount of an instructor’s personal time, resources, and funds which will be reasonably and necessarily used in the development of the instructional text or other instructional resources or technology, as compared to the verifiable total amount of all time, resources, and funds to be devoted to the development of the instructional text or other instructional resources or technology.

D. Any agreement between the institution and the instructor for any such compensation must be prospective, occurring prior to the development of the instructional text or other instructional resources or technology, and must be approved in writing by the Chancellor prior to the payment of any such compensation to the instructor.

E. Any agreement between the institution and the instructor for such compensation must contain a caveat that the execution of such agreement does not provide an exemption from and does not imply compliance with the Alabama Ethics Law. Within ten (10) days of the execution of such agreement, a copy of the agreement should be filed with the Alabama Ethics Commission.


Defamation is a published statement that is untrue or hurts one’s reputation. Examples might be accusing someone of committing a crime, being unchaste, or being professionally incompetent.  With online defamation, this could be placing a defamatory statement on a web page, in an online newsletter, on an internet bulletin board, or in a chat room.  A person is liable for defamation if he or she knew or had reason to know that a statement was defamatory.  Stating “in my opinion” does not change a statement from being defamatory.  The person held liable is the one who has editorial control over the site.  Instructors should be in control of all material and communication in an eLearning course. 


Privacy Issues  
Privacy issues include the disclosure of embarrassing facts, whether true or untrue, which are not of legitimate concern to the public.  More specifically, “false light publicity” usually involves publishing a picture of someone with a controversial story.  In addition, court rulings have established that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding email.  Email messages sent via the internet can be intercepted at many different points and can be stored and resurface later without warning; therefore, instructors should use email cautiously.  A general rule is “Do not send any information that could not be written on a postcard.”  College employees should understand that email is in no way private, may be monitored, and is the property of the college.  In addition, all college employees must sign a policy statement which acknowledges awareness of such a policy.  Violations will result in disciplinary action.  Visit the eLearning Acceptable Use Policy section on “Netiquette” (Network Etiquette) which explains what should and should not be included in email messages, chat sessions, and discussion boards. 

eLearning Acceptable Use Policy



All web pages of federally funded institutions must meet the guidelines of Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act) and must meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. Web pages should provide equivalent alternatives for all auditory and visual information. They should also be designed so that all moving, blinking and scrolling objects can be paused and should not rely solely on color.  Features should be used to allow activation through a variety of input devices (mouse, keyboard, head wand, voice, etc).  Instructors should strive to provide information that will help students better understand course content and delivery. 

Visit the following site for Web Accessibility Guidelines: 

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Visit the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI) for additional information related to identifying possible disability access violations.

IDCRI Section 508 Summary Table

Section 508 Resource Page

At present, there has not been a court case brought to the attention of the Gadsden State Community College eLearning Program to set precedent for linking to other sites from web pages. However, a general rule is to ask the person who owns the site for permission to link to it. 




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