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333                  DISTANCE LEARNING


As indicated in our mission statement, Georgia Perimeter College provides “relevant learner-centered higher education that facilitates the achievement of academic, professional and personal goals.”  Technological innovations in teaching and learning make it possible to achieve that mission in more diverse ways. GPC will pursue the development of distance learning with the aim of reaching these three goals:


Distance Learning (DL) is any educational environment that involves technology-enabled teaching outside the face-to-face format. Online courses and hybrid courses are two forms of distance learning:

GPC Online is responsible for the administration of online web-based courses. All web-based courses should be entered into the course schedule through GPC Online. GPC Online will place a comment in the online course schedule advising students that this course is online and advising them of any specific requirements including but not limited to requirements for testing or other activities on campus.

GPC Online Organizational Structure

Online Web-based courses as defined above will be administered by GPC Online.  GPC Online operates as a center structure led by the Executive Director for Distance Learning, a Director for Student Services, and a Director for Faculty Development. The Executive Director will oversee the operation of GPC Online in collaboration with the online department chairs and the academic division deans. The Executive Director is an academic administrator and will report to the Vice-President for Academic and Student Affairs. For the purposes of handling grade appeals, hardship withdrawal applications, and other similar procedures, the Executive Director serves in the capacity of an academic dean.

Online Department Chairs

A key aspect of GPC Online is its alignment with the disciplines through the use of online department chair positions.  There will be a department chair for each of the key disciplines: business, humanities, math, sciences, and social sciences. The chain of reporting will be the same for face-to-face and online faculty and chairs: Faculty report to the department chair who reports directly to the respective academic division dean.

Online department chairs will have the same qualifications and responsibilities as other academic department chairs across the college. Online department chairs will perform the same duties as their campus-based counterparts and will be supervised by their academic division deans.


The online department chairs will collaborate with the academic division deans and Executive Director of Distance Learning to fulfill specific online responsibilities, such as scheduling online courses.  They should collaborate with their counterparts on the campuses as well.


Additional Department Chair Responsibilities:


·        Supervise all teaching in the online department.  

·        Interview and hire part-time online faculty and term-to-term online faculty.

·        Assess the performance of “split-schedule” faculty (as defined below) in their online classes and provide information about their performance to those faculty members’ campus-based department chairs for inclusion in the faculty evaluation.

·        Provide common course outlines, required textbooks, and other key discipline information for GPC online faculty.

·        Communicate with online faculty.


The academic division deans will organize search committees for department chair positions and will review the qualifications and responsibilities of the position with the search committee members. 

Through their supervision, academic division deans will verify that online department chairs are fulfilling their responsibilities.

Discipline Coordination and Oversight

Discipline coordination and oversight are necessary to ensure that comparable standards are upheld in both the online and face-to-face classrooms. All GPC faculty members must teach in accordance with policies as set forth by the discipline committees.

Part-time faculty members hired to teach online will utilize an online course template, which has been approved by the appropriate academic division.  Full-time faculty will also have the option of using an approved template. Online course templates must be approved by the appropriate academic division. Each academic division will develop its own procedures for review and approval of online course templates. Online department chairs, academic division deans, and course curriculum committees may review online course templates to confirm that learning outcomes for each course are met and that approved textbooks are used.  If course curriculum committees are involved in the review of templates, they will have online faculty as members when reviewing the templates.

For the purposes of conducting virtual classroom observations, online department chairs will request access to a faculty member’s online course via iCollege. Classroom evaluation standards will be comparable for both full-time face-to-face and full-time online faculty.

Criteria and Hiring Process for Full-Load, Split-Schedule, and Part-time Online Faculty

Criteria and protocol for selecting faculty for GPC Online are essential to maintain quality instruction in the online classroom. (Note: The requirements contained herein are minimum requirements and do not guarantee that a faculty member will be accepted for teaching online).

Full-load/ Full-time Online Faculty members are faculty who teach exclusively online.


Outside hiring procedures:


Transfer of full-time faculty members to GPC online:

·        Academic division deans, department chairpersons, online department chairs, and the Executive Director for Distance Learning may offer recommendations regarding faculty transfers to GPC Online.

·        Course availability and demand will determine online faculty selection in many instances. The Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Director of Human Resources will make the final decision regarding faculty transfers to GPC Online.


Split-Schedule Faculty


Faculty members who teach both face-to-face and online courses but who teach the majority of their classes face-to-face within an academic year are considered Split-Schedule Faculty.  Full-time GPC faculty with no prior online teaching experience who wish to teach a split-schedule (both face-to-face and online classes) must prepare in one of the following ways.  1) They may complete required online course design training and demonstrate a level of proficiency with iCollege as determined by the GPC Online Executive Director and the appropriate department chair.  At this point, they may be allowed to design and develop their own online course.  2) They may begin teaching with an approved course template and complete the same training program required of part-time faculty members.


·        Academic division deans, department chairpersons, and involved faculty members will determine how the faculty members’ load will be shared between online and face-to-face classes.

·        Full-time faculty who are approved to teach a split schedule will complete the “Online Teaching Request Form” no later than one month before the publication of the fall semester schedule to request courses for the following fall and spring.  The split schedule faculty member’s department chair and the appropriate online department chair will review and approve the online teaching request for the following academic year. Annual online load will be determined each spring for the following fall and spring semesters.

·        Split-schedule faculty will continue to have service and professional development responsibilities on their campuses, with their disciplines, and college-wide as do faculty who teach exclusively face-to-face.

·        Faculty new to online teaching will be monitored and mentored for two semesters either by faculty members who have taught successfully in the online program or by the online department chair.


Part-Time Faculty members are faculty who teach part-time either exclusively online or both on campus and online. Part-time online faculty will be supervised in their online teaching by the online department chairs.

·        Part-time faculty members hired to teach online will utilize an online course template and will complete the training program required by GPC Online.  With the online department chair’s permission, each part-time faculty member may make modifications to course templates.  The online department chair will insure that the common course outline is being followed.

·        If a part-time faculty member teaches both online and face-to-face, that part-time instructor will be evaluated separately by both the online department chair and the on-campus department chair.

Faculty Responsibilities and Standards

Faculty responsibilities must be identified to ensure that all faculty follow the same standards. Full load/full time online tenure-track faculty will have the same general responsibilities as all full-time GPC faculty including not only student advising but also service and professional development responsibilities with GPC Online, their disciplines, and college-wide. In addition they will have the following responsibilities that are specific to the online environment:




Faculty who do not fulfill these requirements will meet with their online department chair to discuss performance improvement.


Course Syllabus

In addition to the items mandated by college policy for inclusion into a syllabus, instructors of online courses should include the following in their syllabi:

·    A clear statement of virtual office hours, lead-time, and preference for responding to students’ queries via e-mail, phone, the Web, or by other means.

·    A clear statement of hardware, software, and information technology skills expected of students to participate in the course. Just as for any other course

 the instructor must be explicit about expectations for students in the course description and in the syllabus. These include not only what type of equipment students will need or what type of Internet connection but also the instructor’s expectations regarding student expertise in software applications. Along with other course requirements, students need to know if they will have to use the Internet or certain software applications as part of course assignments.

·    A link to the “GPC Network Use Policy” so students are advised of their rights, responsibilities, and restrictions regarding use of the GPC network. See

·    An additional statement about plagiarism that includes materials obtained through the Internet and the consequences.

·    A reference to the Student Conduct Code/Policy.  

·    Recommendations that students make at least electronic copies of everything submitted.

·    A clear explanation of what will be considered "nonattendance" and thus possible  

grounds for removal from class or reduction of grade.  Any such policy must conform to the GPC Attendance Policy.  

·    The following statement regarding students with disabilities:  It is the policy and practice of GPC to make all Web information accessible to students with disabilities. If you, as a student with a disability, have difficulty accessing any part of the online course materials for this class, please notify the instructor immediately."


Additional Points:






Outside Activities


As is true for faculty in general, outside activity by full-time faculty members who teach exclusively online is governed by GPC Policy 802.1610.


Evaluating Online Faculty


Developing protocol for online evaluation ensures that online and face-to-face faculty are held to equivalent standards and that the online program maintains academic excellence.


·         All GPC faculty, whether online or face-to-face, will be evaluated by the same FEC-approved evaluation instrument.

·         Teaching evaluations of online courses taught by split-schedule faculty will be completed by the online department chair and forwarded to the respective campus department chairperson for inclusion in the faculty member’s annual report and evaluation.


Online Office Hour Requirements


Policy for online office hours acknowledges the need for flexibility within the online classroom and the unique requirements of online students.


Split-schedule faculty teaching online classes may designate two office hours as virtual or online office hours for each online class taught. Thus a faculty member with two online classes may hold four of the required ten weekly office hours online.


Faculty members teaching exclusively online have the option to have all of their GPC required ten weekly office hours online. During these office hours faculty should be visible and accessible to their students.  Faculty may then use the rest of their teaching time asynchronously.

Online office hours should meet the following criteria:

·     Online office hours should accommodate student schedules.

·     Online office hours are a distinct time in addition to teaching time and shall be specified in each faculty member’s syllabus. 

·     Online faculty will post their online office hours within their syllabus.


Online department chairs will verify that faculty members are fulfilling online office hour requirements and teaching time commitments.


Assignment of Online Classes


It is essential that the assignment of online classes each semester run smoothly. Online courses will be assigned in this order:


1.      Full-load, full-time tenured/tenure-track and term-to-term online faculty will have their online load met before the assignment of classes to split-schedule faculty.

2.      In the assignment of online classes, full-time tenured/tenure-track split-schedule faculty who have been successfully teaching online with good evaluations have seniority over term-to-term split-schedule or part-time faculty.

3.      Full-time term-to-term split-schedule faculty who have been successfully teaching online with good evaluations have seniority over part-time faculty and will be assigned online classes after the assignment of full-time tenured/tenure-track split schedule faculty.

4.      Overloads for all online faculty members will be handled on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the appropriate Academic Division Dean and the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.


Class size


Maximum class size will be the same for online and face-to-face classes.


Online Testing Protocol


Adherence to the online testing protocol is necessary to ensure that GPC testing centers can fulfill all their testing responsibilities.


Online faculty members will follow established GPC testing center protocols and policies, which dictate that faculty will use GPC testing centers for individual make-up exams only.  GPC testing centers should only be used for single, proctored make-up exams, not for quizzes. 


Online students in remote locations who are required to take proctored exams may arrange to take these exams at an acceptable testing site and will need to contact their online instructor via professional email to approve and complete the arrangements.


GPC Online will assist online faculty members and their students in remote locations in establishing proctoring with acceptable testing sites.


GPC Online Support Services


Support services at Georgia Perimeter College are an essential component to online student and faculty success.


Links will be established on the college’s GPC Online webpage for services provided by GPC Online, such as advising and counseling, and for services provided by other operating units in the college, such as Enrollment and Registration, Financial Aid and Student Accounts, GPC Libraries, and the GPC Bookstores. The links will provide support services information and will enable online students and faculty to connect via email with student services representatives. GPC Online support personnel will make every effort to respond to online student or faculty inquiries within twenty-four hours (Monday-Friday).


Online department chairs are responsible for overseeing the ordering of textbooks for online classes and for working with the GPC Bookstore to ensure that the correct textbooks, in sufficient quantities, have been ordered each semester for online classes.


The Executive Director and GPC Online personnel, in cooperation with GPC/OIT, are responsible for linking college student support services to the college’s GPC online web page and for monitoring and updating these links and all related distance learning information on a regular basis.


All GPC services will support GPC Online and contribute to its students’ and faculty members’ success.


Program Standards


GPC will strive to offer the highest possible quality Distance Learning courses and programs. In order to do this, GPC endorses the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) guidelines for distance education which may be found at


GPC also endorses the “Standards for Quality Online Teaching,” as defined by the Southern Regional Educational Board, which may be found at


Annual Evaluation Credit for Course Development


DL faculty shall receive appropriate credit for the development and updating of an online or hybrid class as determined by the Faculty Evaluation Committee.




Attendance policies relating to distance classes are at the discretion of the instructor in accordance with college policy.  Instructors should make every effort to ensure that their policies are clear and uniformly enforced.   Online faculty must take attendance during the established “no-show attendance period. For the purposes of complying with the no-show attendance policy, logging into an online class during the no-show attendance period is the equivalent of attending a face-to-face class.


Student Evaluations of Faculty


All online faculty are required to evaluate their courses through the use of the college recognized electronic evaluations approved by the Faculty Evaluation Committee (FEC).  The evaluations will be conducted in the term specified by the Faculty Evaluation Committee for all classes. Faculty requiring evaluations in other semesters may contact GPC Online.

GPC E-mail and Communicating with Students

Electronic communication between online faculty and students should be through iCollege or GPC e-mail addresses only.

Using Technology to Transmit Student Information

Electronic communication has made it easier to communicate with students and also to transmit information to and about them. E-mail cannot be counted upon to occur in a secure environment. It is important to exercise caution about the contents of e-mail and access to files and machines in which confidential information about students might reside.

Caution is especially important when considering posting directory information, class lists, grades, or any personal identifying information (including photographs) about students to school, department, lab, or class web pages to which there could be public access. Individual communication with students as well as work done by the student is considered student information. Student information should appear only in an environment (such as iCollege) to which only authorized parties have access.

ADA Web Accessibility Policy

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is the policy of Georgia Perimeter College to make all GPC Web Page information accessible to persons with disabilities in order to provide them with effective communication through the Internet. Communication should be, to the extent possible, as effective as it is for persons without disabilities. This includes all information departments, faculty, or staff present to the public over the internet.

Assistance in meeting these standards for web materials can be obtained from the Office of Information Technology and the Center for Disability Services. 

Information regarding ADA compliant web pages may also be found at .

Deadlines & Guidelines for Adapting Courses to a Distance Format

Creating a course in an online format involves a significant investment of time and energy on the part of the instructor.  Faculty should start the planning process for course development at least six months prior to the course being offered for the first time. Given the increasing demands for assistance in creating web-enhanced or web-based courses, support units may set deadlines and guidelines for providing assistance to faculty in this process. Faculty are advised to contact such support units including GPC Online and Educational Technologies for training as soon as  they decide to develop a distance education course, but no later than six months prior to offering the course for the first time.

Faculty Support and Development

GPC provides faculty with a variety of support. This includes technical support to maintain campus infrastructure, assistance in adapting technology to classroom use, and assistance in adapting curriculum to a different teaching format. Support and assistance can be obtained through the Center for Teaching and Learning, GPC Online, the Training Department of Educational Technologies (see, and the GPC Service Desk (iServe).



Revised and approved by Academic Affairs Advisory Council 5/19/09

Approved by President’s Advisory Board 6/23/09