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Northwest College

  • Website: www.nwc.cc.wy.us  
  • Enrollment: Supplemental 10-12 
  • Medium: WEN Video, Online

Minimum qualifications

Northwest College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. In addition, NWC has internal and external checks for quality in its distance learning program. Workshops are delivered to faculty so that all know the standard to which they must adhere and courses are checked for that standard before they are delivered. Quality Matters provides an external check for quality. Through accreditation and the quality checks in place, the following assumptions can be made: 

  1. Distance education faculty at NWC are highly qualified: all faculty at NWC meet guidelines determined by the Higher Learning Commission. 
  2. Courses meet the content standards for community colleges and universities. Curriculum is faculty driven and monitored by the NWC Curriculum Committee. Curriculum is articulated amongst the community colleges and to the University of Wyoming and other universities. 
  3. Courses and programs undergo constant evaluation so that improvements can be where needed. 

Professional development

NWC faculty, whether full-time or adjunct, must successfully complete the week-long Online Learning Workshop held annually before teaching online. Continued learning is available in monthly (shorter) offerings on specific topics identified by faculty or the Instructional Technology Coordinator. In addition to workshops, webinars and books are available upon request. The distance education faculty are supported by three staff members -- the Instructional Technology Coordinator, the Instructional Technology Specialist, and the Dean of Extended Campus and Workforce. This staff defines and implements processes for smooth delivery, stays up to date on current technologies, troubleshoots technical problems, provides trainings, and implements evaluations and satisfaction surveys in order to discover areas in need of improvement. 

Performance expectations

NWC faculty are expected to provide students with a syllabus that details when they can expect a reply to their communications. Generally, faculty are expected to reply via the discussion boards or email within 48 hours. Most, however, respond within 24 hours. NWC expects faculty to engage students through good online teaching pedagogy, fostering interaction between faculty and student and student and student (if appropriate to the course). The Online Learning Workshop that faculty must complete identifies methodology for doing such. NWC Distance Education staff expect faculty to use discussion boards and journal entries to encourage critical thinking and reflection. Faculty can only receive a development stipend if their course meets the NWC defined standard. 

Method(s) of evaluation

Prior to teaching any online course for the first time, the course must go through an Online Course Readiness review. This quality check is done by the Instructional Technology Coordinator and the appropriate division chair. Online courses are then evaluated by students in the first semester of its delivery and then every third time it is taught. Also in the first semester of delivery, the appropriate division chair "sits in" the class to monitor use of best practices.