Western Wyoming Community College
- Website: www.wwcc.wy.edu
- Enrollment: Supplemental 11-12
- Medium: WEN Video, Online
Western Wyoming Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, the same association that accredits the Wyoming K-12 systems. WWCC along with other Wyoming Community Colleges have adopted Quality Matters, as its method for assessing the quality standards for their distance courses. Therefore, the following are assumed:
- The faculty teaching their classes are qualified; FT faculty oversee the approval of adjunct faculty and the development of course outlines and objectives.
- The courses meet the content standards of the community colleges and the regional university systems. WWCC has articulation agreements with most regional universities and UW; UW and the community colleges have a common course numbering system and conduct regular departmental articulation agreements. Moreover, each year UW assesses the success of our transfer students and concludes that Wyoming community college transfers do as well or better than "native" students who start at UW.
- The courses meet national quality standards and do not need to meet the NACOL standards.
In addition to the above qualifications, every instructor teaching online for WWCC is required to complete a credit course titled "Facilitating Online Learning" before teaching online. This course prepares faculty to be online facilitators, allows them to experience being an online student, and discusses the differences between the classroom and online in interaction, communication, assessment, and collaborative projects. After this course, the WWCC faculty work one-on-one with an Internet Support Specialist and an Instructional Designer to make sure their course demonstrates the quality level of WWCC's courses and to ensure the instructor is technically supported. The Director of Distance Education monitors new instructors to ensure that appropriate interaction is occurring between students and between students and faculty.
The pre-service professional development components WWCC online faculty are required to complete prior to teaching online are listed above. In addition, FT faculty are given released time to develop a new course. On-going professional development components include:
- WWCC online faculty are encouraged to attend the following annual conferences: WyDEC, IllinoisOnline, and the Jossey-Bass Online Teaching and Learning conference. WWCC funds attendance.
- WWCC provides one-on-one training for all of its faculty in-person, on the phone, or using the web conferencing software, Elluminate.
- Group workshops are provided every semester on up-to-date technologies.
On-Going Feedback Systems:
- When faculty attend conferences they are asked to provide a review of the useful points they learned to the WWCC Distance Education director. These reviews tell the Director if this conference is useful. - Attendees complete two evaluations for the "Facilitating Online Learning" course. They complete the standard WWCC course/faculty evaluation and in addition, they complete an evaluation created by the instructors of the class to determine more specifically how the class can be improved.
WWCC faculty are expected to reply to student questions via the discussion boards or email within 48 hours maximum, most faculty reply within 24 hours. WWCC expects its faculty to incorporate all three types of interaction into its courses: student-to-instructor, student-to-student, and student-to-content. WWCC encourages courses with interactive and hands-on learning. The Director of Distance Education monitors that such interactions are occurring, particularly with first-time instructors online. In addition, WWCC provides all of its faculty with a calling card so they can call online students they perceive to be having problems in the course.
Method(s) of evaluation
The Director of Distance Education monitors the interactions and responsiveness, particularly for first-time instructors online. She sends e-mails noting their responsiveness or lack of it, encouraging active learning behaviors. At the end of the semester, feedback from our Student Evaluations is monitored by both the Director of Distance Education and the department chair. Those with poor evaluations are contacted and positive strategies to improve are suggested. If improvement does not occur, that faculty member will not continue to teach online. It should be noted that with the help of the Faculty Senate, WWCC has developed course and instructor evaluations specific to the online environment. This ensures that the information gathered is useful.