Frequently Asked Questions

What is distance education?

Distance education is defined within California's Code of Regulations, Title V, Sections 55202, 55204, 55206 and related sections, and the Chancellor Office's California Community Colleges Distance Education Guidelines 2008 Omnibus Version quotes Section 55200 with the definition:

"Distance education means instruction in which the instructor and student are separated by distance and interact through the assistance of communication technology."

According to those definitions, a course is defined as being Distance Education or "online" if 51% or more of the content and instruction is delivered without F2F physical interaction in a traditional classroom.

In most "online" courses all of the content is delivered electronically and all contact with students happens in the virtual classroom.

What are the differences between "online," "hybrid," "web-enhanced" and "face-to-face" courses?

Online is a mode of distance education. Content in online courses are delivered electronically; students and instructors meet in virtual classrooms. Online courses are often also called eCourses and mCourses (in reference to electronic and mobile learning).

All online courses must be reviewed and approved by the Curriculum Committee before they can be delivered electronically/online.

Hybrid courses: there is no official definition of "hybrid" in Title 5, but since there is a definition for online, hybrid is understood to describe a method of delivering course content in which there is a combination of face-to-face and virtual contact between students and instructors. That is, when any portion--up to 50%--of the traditional face-to-face contact hours with students is replaced by virtual contact, the course is hybrid. Hybrid courses are coded and reported to the state as if they are delivered completely in the traditional face-to-face classroom.

Web-enhanced courses are traditional F2F courses that incorporate an unspecified amount of technology to instruct in the classroom.

F2F courses are courses delivered in the traditional, on-campus, classroom where students and instructors are physically present at the same time.

What is "regular effective contact"?

The 2008 Omnibus Version provides guidelines for Section 55204 of Title V; The 2008 Omnibus Version also affirms that it is "the responsibility of the instructor in a DE course to initiate regular contact with enrolled students to verify their participation and performance status. The use of the term 'regular effective contact' in this context suggests that students should have frequent opportunities to ask questions and receive answers from the instructor of record."

"Any portion of a course conducted through distance education includes regular effective contact between instructor and students, through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, correspondence, voice mail, e-mail, or other activities. Regular effective contact is an academic and professional matter pursuant to sections 53200 et seq."

For online and hybrid teaching and learning, regular effective contact is required to meet the Carnegie Unit requirements for academic credit.

The local/WVC definition of "regular effective contact" includes required and consistent student engagement in these three types of communication:

  • student with instructor

  • student with student

  • student with content

Do online and hybrid courses need additional or separate approval before they can be delivered electronically?

The 2008 Omnibus Version provides further guidance on Section 55206 of Title V: At WVC, those procedures for approval are established by the Curriculum Committee in consultation with the Distance Learning Committee and Academic Senate.

"If any portion of the instruction in a proposed or existing course or course section is designed to be provided through distance education in lieu of face-to-face interaction between instructor and student, the course shall be separately reviewed and approved according to the districts' adopted course approval procedures."

"While only those courses that are 51% or more DE are reported as DE, the language here is intended to clarify that those courses that are less than 51% DE, but are designed to include a certain number of contact hours offered through DE, still must undergo a separate approval process. The occasional online assignment does not necessitate separate approval."

How do I take attendance in a hybrid or online course where learning and teaching happen asynchronously?

This is a really important question, since attendance must be verified and reported to the state for apportionment purposes.

The best way to take attendance in an asynchronous learning environment is to make sure that there are weekly assignments or quizzes, and that those assignments are graded in a timely manner, so that there is contact between the student and instructor.  Quizzes created in ANGEL can be graded automatically.

It is also important to keep a record, including of students who drop the class, and to submit that record to the Admissions and Records office along with final grades.

What should be considered in order to deliver ADA-compliant and accessible online, hybrid and web-enhanced courses?

Please review the pages on Accessibility and ADA compliance in this website.

Consult with the WVC Alternate Media Specialist by calling 741.2063.

Know that Canvas, the course management system used by WVC, is generally compliant with Section 508 of the ADA, and materials developed in ANGEL meet the guidelines of the act.

Know this important basic information that is detailed in the WVC Standards and Criteria for Distance Education document:

  • All online and hybrid courses must comply with e requirements established by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 1998, and chapter 6 of the 2008 Omnibus Version of the California Community Colleges Distance Education Guidelines.
  • isual and auditory information shall be created with synchronized closed or open captions, descriptive narration, text transcripts, or other applicable accommodations.
  • When possible, printed information shall be provided in the alternate format preferred by the student (i.e., electronic text, Braille, audio, large print).
  • Synchronous communication must accommodate students with special needs and may include telephone, TTY and other technology.
  • Where access to websites not controlled by the college is required or realistically necessary for completion of a course, the college shall take steps to ensure thata such sites are accessible or the college shall provide the same material by other accessible means.
  • The college is not required to fundamentally alter programs of instruction to accommodate students with disabilities. However, even if an approved requested accommodation for an eligible student with a disability would result in a fundamental alteration of an instructional activitiy, or pose undue burden upon the college, the college shall provide an alternate accommodation if one is available.
  • Instructors shall provide contact information for DESP and include the DESP statement in syllabi:

"West Valley College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities (visible or invisible). Course materials will be available in alternate formats upon request, as will other accommodations directly related to the educations limitations of the verified disability. Students with any special needs should contact the Disability and Education Support Program (DESP) at 408.741.2010."

last published: 3/21/18