Increasing in popularity, online courses are proving to be a thriving method of education that has led to a rise in success at Pierce.
The Academic Senate meeting on Nov. 5 approved several measures to continue improving the quality of online courses, including clarifying online office hours and offering refresher courses for the teachers.
According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Credit Course Retention/Success Rate Summary Report, Pierce’s enrollment count, retention and success rate have significantly increased since Spring 2017.
Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass said, “Our goal is our students’ success and so anything we can do to increase students’ success is what we are focusing on.”
According to the report, Pierce’s Spring 2017 enrollment count was 3,573 and the success rate was 60.71 percent. In Spring 2018, enrollment count rose to 5,499 and success rate rose to 69.25 percent, which is about 4 percent more than the district average and the highest among all nine colleges.
Vice President of the Academic Senate Margarita Pillado said that in the past, all instructors that were interested in teaching an online class were informed that they should have a certification.
“Today, we approved that policy for five years, which means that if you have the certificate and didn’t teach any online class for five years, then you need to do some training,” Pillado said. “This to ensure that the instructors who are teaching online have the best training possible to offer a quality product to students”
The senate passed this policy using the term “should,” meaning that teachers are encouraged to participate in the training.
The importance of changing the language to “should” versus “shall” in the policy is so it does not conflict with faculty union contracts.
The Senate also discussed the importance of equal working hours whether in person or online.
“The obligation is the same in terms the number of hours worked,” Agriculture Instructor Jennifer Adelini said. “So if you are teaching online or teaching in person, you are still required to have the same number of office hours.”
Instructors are required to hold a certain number of office hours based on how many classes they have, which should be reflected in their syllabus.
Instructors have several options for holding online office hours such as, phone calls or online chatting tools/ Canvas applications that allow real-time interaction include ConferZoom, Zoom, and Cranium Café.