Recommended Best Practices

The term "Best Practice" has been used to describe "what works" in a particular situation or environment. When data support the success of a practice, it is referred to as a research-based practice or scientifically based practice.

The purpose of this page is to help our instructors to research, compile, disseminate, and utilize best practices in education. The goal is to improve learning opportunities for our students, thus improving their overall performance and satisfaction.

1. Distance education course design/templates
All distance education instructors should use a CCIT-approved distance education course template. Adherence to this best practice will ensure that the instructional materials are coherently sequenced, and effectively defined. All distance education courses should include, but may not be limited to, the following:
  • Course overview and introduction
  • Approved syllabus
  • Descriptive course schedule with assignment/assessment due dates
  • Assignment and measurement overview
  • Instructor introduction
  • Explanation of the learning objectives
  • Course technology overview
  • Information as to how the student can access learning support
  • Accessibility information
  • Method to share grades
  • Instructional materials
  • Communication
 

 

2. Asynchronous and Synchronous Online Learning
In online courses at the College, interactions between instructor and student are typically asynchronous. However, no course should be 100% asynchronous. Therefore, the College recommends that online instructors offer at least two synchronous online learning activities per online course. The College is recommending that the online instructor adhere to the following best practices when offering synchronous learning activities:
  • Instructors teaching online courses are permitted to communicate the expectation that students will participate in synchronous online learning activities. In the event that a student is unable to participate in a synchronous activity, instructors should create archives of each synchronous session to be made available to students, and/or deploy comparable asynchronous material for students to review.
  • In order to facilitate this requirement, by the first week of the course, the instructor must clearly state the synchronous learning activity schedule, expectations for student participation, and required technology.
  • Students should know at-a-glance when each synchronous session is scheduled so they can make arrangements to participate. If unable to attend, students should be instructed to communicate their absence to the instructor.
  • Strategies to engage students in synchronous learning include, but are not limited to, using individual and group instant messaging, text/video chat, web conferencing, virtual classrooms/spaces, phone calls, etc.
  • Synchronous instruction should not be a simple conversion of a classroom lecture to an online lecture. Collaborative learning activities containing opportunities for students to interact should be used. 

 

3. Preparing Faculty to Teach Distance Education Courses
It is essential that the faculty who teach distance education courses are proficient in their subject area, skilled with technology, and are also specifically prepared for the unique challenges of teaching in a dynamic online environment.
  • Certifying Distance Education Instructors
    Effective September 1, 2013 - Instructors who teach a distance education course must successfully complete IDTG31 Teaching with Technology, or have taken ETC230 Teaching Beyond the Classroom. The College will also accept a comparable three credit course or online teaching certification from an accredited college or university. (The Dean of Instruction and the Director of CCIT will determine the transferability of distance education course completed at another institution).

 

4. Course-level Student Orientations
Effective September 1, 2013 – all distance education courses should provide students with a course-level orientation.  This course-level orientation must include, but is not limited to, a comprehensive review of the following areas:
  • Syllabus
  • Course overview and introduction
  • Descriptive course schedule with assignment/assessment due dates
  • Assignment and measurement overview
  • Instructor introduction
  • Explanation of the learning objectives
  • Course technology overview
  • Information as to how the student can access learning support
  • Method to share grades
  • Instructional materials
 

4. Distance Education Student Verification - Primary Authentication Method
In any distance education course reasonable steps are taken by the College to assure that each student who registers in the course is the same student who participates in, completes and receives credit for the course. This verification is accomplished by a combination of the following methods.
  • The College’s primary procedure for ensuring that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program is the single sign-on authentication procedure. The College has deployed an industry-standard validation application named Central Authentication Service (CAS). 
  • The purpose of CAS is to permit a user to access multiple applications while providing their credentials (such as username and password) only once. It also allows web applications to authenticate users without gaining access to a user's security credentials. The College provides each student with a unique username and password.  These credentials enable members of the College’s academic community to access the learning management system, library resources, the student information system, etc.
 
5. Distance Education Student Verification - Secondary Authentication Methods
In order to further assure that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit, CCIT recommends a number of instructional techniques and best-practices.
  • Periodic Student Verifications
    Instructors have access to basic student information via the College’s student information system.   As a best practice, CCIT recommends that in the first week of the course instructors ask students to submit a digital picture that will provide the instructor with a method of verification. It is also recommended that when instructors speak with distance education students, that they verify the student’s full-name and student number.  This will provide another method of verification. These periodic information verification “challenges,” in combination with other techniques have been proven to effectively expose students engaging in academic dishonesty.
  • Proctored Exams
    Instructors are permitted to require distance education students to have their exams proctored.  For online courses, this will require that the student find an approved proctor.  Students in online courses cannot be required to come to campus.  However, students have the option of taking a proctored test at one of the College’s campus testing centers or other approved locations. Instructors teaching web-enhanced and hybrid courses are encouraged to either administer their own exams or to require students take their exam in a College testing center.
  • Unique Assessment Techniques
    As a best practice, instructors are encouraged to use multiple assessment techniques.  Assessments should require students to frequently write, present, collaborate and interact.  These unique styles of assessment are lower stakes, and depend more on cumulative learning. They enable an instructor to gain a better feel for the student’s style and ability.
  • Identity Check Digital Photo
    Early in the course, CCIT recommends that the instructor ask participating students pose for an identity check digital photo.  The student can do this by holding up a picture ID in front of a Webcam, then snapping a digital image.  This image can then be emailed to the instructor. The instructor can then compare the two Webcam images to see if they match. Their college ID, or a driver’s license, will work effectively.