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Proposing a Distance Learning Course

If you are interested in developing a distance-learning course, contact the distance learning coordinator in the Center for Professional Education at SPU by calling 800-482-3848 or 206-281-2374, or by emailing DLinfo@spu.edu. If approved by the CPE director, you will be asked to develop a draft of the proposed course using the Distance Learning Course Proposal form, which will be sent by the DL coordinator.

If you are not a current CPE Instructor, you will need to follow the process to become a CPE Instructor at Requirements for CPE Instructors.

Approved Distance Learning Courses

Once a Distance Learning course is approved by the appropriate SPU School of Education administrators and faculty, the instructor completes production of all course materials and submits them to the distance learning coordinator for approval, modification, and editing for quality, content, and clarity.

Because it can take several months to fully develop a distance learning course, please allow sufficient time from first proposing your course to the date it will first be available to students.

The titles/publishers of books and other learning materials that students will purchase as resources for your course should be submitted to the Distance Learning Office two months prior to the first day of course registration. The Distance Learning Office will work with the SPU Bookstore to order all texts or other materials.

Course Calendar

Distance Learning courses are offered in a yearlong academic term, July 1-June 30. DL courses work on an open-enrollment basis, so students may register for these courses at any time during the term.

Students have 365 days from their start date to complete their course. The date their grade is posted to their transcript will determine which academic year their course will appear on their transcript. You will receive individual students' due dates on the course roster.

Academic Standards for 5000-level Distance Learning Credit Courses

You can use any or all of the following Instructional Delivery Methods:

  • Reading/Research
  • Writing
  • One-way audio or video presentation
  • Interactive audio or video presentation
  • Internet discussion board
  • Email correspondence 
  • Phone calls, individual or teleconference
  • Practicum/experiential activities

Your students are expected to spend approximately 20–25 hours per credit in learning activities. Estimate the number of hours for each delivery method. Total the instructional hours and divide by 20 to determine the number of credits you will be offering for the course.

Students may not earn more than 3 credits in one week. If your course is more than 3 credits, you must structure the course to ensure that students cannot complete it in less than one week.

All credit courses must include student products that you can evaluate. These products must reflect students' learning and be of substantive nature for the amount of credit earned. The student products must provide an opportunity for individualized and unique synthesis and/or application of the ideas and information learned in the course.

Cheating cannot be tolerated. In a distance learning course, it is not generally possible to observe whether or not students are completing their own work. Thus, safeguards against cheating, such as preventing the copying of other students' work or somehow "short-circuiting" course requirements, must be implemented when constructing a course.

Opportunity for interaction between you and your student must be provided. For most yearlong DL courses, which are self-paced and have little or no opportunity for face-to-face or limited opportunity for online interaction, you should implement the following two methods:

  • Make yourself available for phone calls or email messages from students. In your study guide, include your phone number(s), email address, and the times you are available for contact.
  • If students request feedback on assignments, let them know that they must supply you with a stamped, self-addressed envelope. You can also return comments by email. This feedback serves as a critical link between you and your students. A recommended number of feedback/evaluation opportunities is one per credit.

The letter-grade-only system is preferred and highly recommended for distance learning courses. This helps maintain the academic credibility of these courses. (If a pass/no credit grading option is provided, then all policies in this handbook related to academic grading must be met.)

Permissions to Use Course Content

In some situations, the instructor will opt to hold the course's copyright, and SPU will pay no development fees for the course. Expectations for use of the course and its materials will be delineated in the Distance Learning Course Development and Instruction Agreement.

Duties of a Yearlong Distance Learning Course Instructor

As an instructor, your duties shall include the following:

  • Evaluate all student coursework thoroughly and fairly and within three weeks of receipt.
  • Return the work of all students who submit postage-paid envelopes for this purpose.
  • Handle administrative aspects of the course, including but not exclusive of, completing the grade report for all enrolled students once coursework is turned in, and responding to requests for extensions.
  • Respond to inquiries by students regarding the course (content, assignments, etc.).
  • Maintain records on students' work, completion, and evaluation. At the University's discretion, these records are to be made available for review by appropriate SPU personnel.
  • Support and adhere to the course requirements and activities as outlined in the course study guide/syllabus, and approved by SPU. You shall use professional judgment to work with individual students, modifying particular assignments to meet students' unique situations. However, the amount, breadth, and depth of coursework, as designated in the course study guide/syllabus must still be maintained.
  • Inform SPU's Distance Learning office in the event that you, the instructor, will be absent from your permanent mailing address for a period greater than 20 days and, thus, unable to perform the duties of this agreement in a timely manner.
  • Provide SPU with documentation of permission to use previously copyrighted materials prior to the duplication of the syllabus or course materials, citing in the course materials all borrowed works.

Extension Policy for Year-long Distance Learning Courses

Extensions are available to students unable to complete distance learning coursework within the allotted time because of illness or other emergency beyond the control of the student. Extensions are granted for an additional 90 days. Students must send a request for an extension in writing to you, the instructor, before their final course deadline.

You then forward a copy of the request to the coordinator of student records (kknapp@spu.edu) with a signed recommendation to grant or deny the request. The University will send official notification to the student. If approved, the notification will include the new course deadline, and you will receive a copy of this letter.

A second extension may be granted only in extreme circumstances and must be petitioned, with documentation, in the same manner as the first.

For Leaders in Education

The School of Education at SPU offers doctoral programs for professionals interested in leadership and teaching positions in all fields and levels of education.