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Distance Education Policies & Guidance

This page provides an overview of (and links to) the policies and regulations that guide and govern Distance Education (DE) course* instruction at College of the Canyons.

Additional information is available in the COC Distance Education Faculty Handbook, developed by the Academic Senate and Online Education in May 2020 and revised in June 2023:

  • Distance Education Faculty Handbook provides an overview of the procedures, policies, and best practices for teaching Distance Education (DE) courses at College of the Canyons. Some “how to…” instructions are included, although this is not intended to be a comprehensive manual about DE technology and methodology. Sources for technical information and available training are summarized in Appendix C.

*DE courses are defined in the following Academic Senate policies:

Policies & Guidance for DE Course Modalities

Teaching & Learning in DE Courses

Regular & Substantive Interaction

The federal education code, the ACCJC, the CCCCO, local BP 4233/AP 4233, and local AP 4105 require that all distance education courses include regular and substantive interaction between the instructor and student, and between students. Instructors must initiate regular and substantive interaction with students. Learn more below. 

  • Per Board Policy (BP 4233), Administrative Procedure (AP 4233), and Administrative Procedure (AP 4105), attendance in an online course requires regular or substantive interaction between students and initiated by the faculty. Students must actively participate in the course, not just enter and view materials.

    Instructors must provide the opportunity for students to engage in regular and substantive contact every week. Creating a short exercise that is required in the first week is encouraged to immediately engage students and initiate regular and substantive contact with and between students. For example, creating a discussion forum in which students introduce themselves and are required to respond to other student posts is a way to foster student-student interaction early in the course. You may consider including simple exercises at the beginning of your course that require students to demonstrate their ability to use each of the activities you plan to assign like quizzes, forums, or essay assignments.

    This short tutorial explains what constitutes regular, substantive interaction (RSI) and how to ensure you're meeting the guidelines:

COC DE Attendance Policy

How do you determine whether students enrolled in an online class should be considered no-shows or should be considered as attending the class? These questions are addressed in Board Policy 4233 Attendance and Administrative Procedure 4233 AttendanceFor complete language, please see the full Board Policy and Administrative Procedures. Some relevant excerpts are below.

  • Attendance Policy Information from Board Policy 4233

    In Distance Education Courses:

    1. Faculty shall initiate regular and substantive interaction with students in distance education courses.
    2. A student’s absence from a distance education course shall be determined by the last day on which the student was academically engaged and participated in an academically related activity in the class.
    3. The last date of attendance for students enrolled in a distance education course will be used in determining a student’s absences and subsequent drop or withdrawal from a class.

    Academically related activities include but are not limited to:

    • Physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students;
    • Submitting an academic assignment;
    • Taking an exam, an interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction;
    • Attending a supplemental learning activity and/or study group that is assigned by the instructor;
    • Participating in an online discussion about academic matters; and
    • Initiating contact with the instructor of record to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

    Academically related activities do not include activities where a student may be present but not academically engaged, such as:

    • Logging into an online class without active participation; or
    • Participating in academic counseling or advisement.

    Attendance Policy Information from AP 4233

    • Students must actively participate in online courses to prove attendance.
    • Attendance in an online course will be counted when a student participates in an academically related activity.
    • If the student does not participate in an academically related activity throughout the course, the instructor may drop the student for non-attendance.

Faculty Information Handbook

The Faculty Information Handbook developed by College of the Canyons Admissions & Records provides guidance for managing your student roster in MyCanyons, information, instructions, procedures and forms. 

Teaching with the College's LMS (Canvas)

College of the Canyons, along with all California Community Colleges, uses the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS), which provides a consistent online classroom for students and faculty. Visit Online Teaching Resources. for information and resources for on teaching with Canvas and using online instructional tools. 

  • Accreditation (ACCJC), Federal (Title IV) guidelines, and AP 4105 require that institutions authenticate students’ identity and safeguard their data. The learning management system (LMS), Canvas, is recognized as the approved means of doing so.
  • When combining (cross-listing) multiple sections in a single Canvas shell, there are some specific steps to take to ensure that students privacy is protected in accordance with the Department of Education’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Please visit FERPA Compliance and Student Interaction for the following information:

    • How FERPA relates to a course with combined sections
    • How to edit Canvas course settings to ensure FERPA compliance
    • How to manage Groups and Collaborations in a merged course
    • How to ensure FERPA compliance when messaging students from Canvas
    • How to add multiple sections to one Canvas shell. 
  • By regulation (CA Title 5 and Section 508 federal regulations) and as a duty to our students, faculty should follow guidelines for maximizing the accessibility of instruction for students with disabilities. College of the Canyons’ Academic Accommodation Center (AAC), formally known as the Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS), can be of great assistance by providing software and hardware support to students. You can also call their office for recommendations about how to accommodate online students. In many cases, students with disabilities will be making use of the AAC support and will notify the faculty member of necessary accommodations as verified by AAC staff. 

    For more information on preparing accessible course material, please refer to the COC DE Handbook


California Code of Regulations

Title V outlines Distance Education standards to which California Community Colleges must adhere. Each standard is listed below along with a brief synopsis of the recently updated changes (effective on March 17, 2019). For more information, visit California's Code of Regulations.

See also, the 2019 Distance Education Guidelines, prepared by the Distance Education and Educational Technology Advisory Committee and the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, Educational Services and Support Division.

  • Definition & Application

    Tittle V 55200 Definition and Application: Distance education means instruction in which the instructor and student are separated by time and/or distance and interact through the assistance of technology. All distance education is subject to the general requirements of this chapter as well as the specific requirements of this article. In addition, instruction provided as distance education is subject to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12100 et seq.) and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794d).

    Course Quality Standards

    Title V 55202 Course Quality Standards: The same standards of course quality shall be applied to any portion of a class conducted through distance education as are applied to in-person classes, in regard to the course quality judgment made pursuant to the requirements of section 55002, and in regard to any local course quality determination or review process. Determinations and judgments about the quality of distance education under the course quality standards shall be made with the full involvement of faculty in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 2 (commencing with section 53200) of chapter 2.

    Instructor Contact

    Title V 55204 Instructor Contact: In addition to the requirements of section 55002 and any locally established requirements applicable to all courses, district governing boards shall ensure that: 

    (a) Any portion of a course conducted through distance education includes regular effective contact between instructor and students, and among students, either synchronously or asynchronously, through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, voice mail, e-mail, or other activities. Regular effective contact is an academic and professional matter pursuant to sections 53200 et seq.
    (b) Any portion of a course provided through distance education is conducted consistent with guidelines issued by the Chancellor pursuant to section 409 of the Procedures and Standing Orders of the Board of Governors.

    Separate Course Approval

    Title V 55206 Separate Course Approval: If any portion of the instruction in a new or existing course is to be provided through distance education, an addendum to the official course outline of record shall be required. In addition to addressing how course outcomes will be achieved in a distance education mode, the addendum shall at a minimum specify how the portion of instruction delivered via distance education meets:

    (a) Regular and effective contact between instructors and students and among students as referenced in title 5, section 55204(a), and
    (b) Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12100 et seq.) and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (29 U.S.C. § 749d)
    The addendum shall be separately approved according to the district's adopted curriculum approval procedures.

    Faculty Selection & Workload

    Title V 55208 Faculty Selection and Workload: (a) Instructors of course sections delivered via distance education technology shall be selected by the same procedures used to determine all instructional assignments. Instructors shall possess the minimum qualifications for the discipline into which the course's subject matter most appropriately falls, in accordance with article 2 (commencing with section 53410) of subchapter 4 of chapter 4, and with the list of discipline definitions and requirements adopted by the Board of Governors to implement that article, as such list may be amended from time to time.

    (b) Instructors of distance education shall be prepared to teach in a distance education delivery method consistent with local district policies and negotiated agreements.
    (c) The number of students assigned to any one course section offered by distance education shall be determined by and be consistent with other district procedures related to faculty assignment. Procedures for determining the number of students assigned to a course section offered in whole or in part by distance education may include a review by the curriculum committee established pursuant to section 55002(a)(1).
    (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to impinge upon or detract from any negotiations or negotiated agreements between exclusive representatives and district governing boards.

College of the Canyons Online Faculty Evaluations

Online courses and instruction are evaluated as part of the normal faculty evaluation process. The faculty union bargaining agreements provide details about the evaluation process. The evaluation forms can be found under the Instruction Office on the intranet.

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