A Brief History of the Distance Education Committee (DEC)
In the fall of 2009, the Faculty Senate formed the Ad-hoc Committee on Online Issues and appointed several faculty members with online teaching experience to the committee. The members of the committee were: Neal Callahan (Chair), John Bourhis, Jim Pettijohn, Cynthia Hail, Rose Utley, Scott Wegner, and Gary Rader.
Several issues prompted the formation of the committee including the following:
- confusion concerning online teaching policies and procedures
- concern that online teaching policies were not being applied equally across colleges
- a concern that the $55/student stipend for online teaching was threatened for elimination
After meeting with Margaret Weaver, 2009–2010 Faculty Senate Chair, the above items were expanded into a formal charge for the committee. The Ad-Hoc Committee on Online Issues was charged with the study of six broad topics impacting online education at MSU. Those topics were:
- Review peer institutions as to their policies regarding supplementary pay for online instructors and make recommendations to the Senate in January 2010.
- Work in conjunction with the offices of Missouri State Online to formulate strategies for ensuring input from faculty on basic policies and procedures for technology in the classroom.
- Secure a faculty senate representative on the university committee(s) that formulate, review, and propose changes to online policies.
- Make recommendations for how departments can include online student evaluations in the regular departmental evaluation process, using the same and/or a similar instrument.
- Make a recommendation to the Rules Committee no later than February 2010 regarding whether this ad hoc committee should become a standing Senate Committee.
- Investigate and determine best practices for administering and teaching online courses by benchmarking with peer institutions and/or other appropriate sources.
The committee investigated online policy at Missouri State and at several peer institutions concerning best practices, compensation, assessment, etc. A preliminary report was issued to the Faculty Senate in February of 2010. At the time the report was issued, the committee determined that a university committee should be formed to recommend policy to the provost and to improve the accuracy and availability of online information. A meeting was arranged with the Provost in March of 2010. At the meeting, Provost McCarthy indicated that the $55 per student compensation for online teaching was established policy and was not being considered for elimination. She also indicated that compensation for online course development and blended course development was policy.
After discussing the issue thoroughly, Dr. McCarthy agreed that a new university committee reporting to the Provost should be formed. The committee’s purpose would be to develop and propose online policy to the Provost and to provide communication and mediation between the Provost’s Office, the faculty Senate, and other key online interests.
The committee members present agreed that a great deal of progress had been made. Given the clarification concerning compensation and the approval of the new committee, it was agreed to not proceed with Senate Resolutions relating to the $55 per student stipend. The Ad-Hoc Committee on Online Issues agreed to develop a list of key online topics as a starting point for the new committee reporting to the Provost. The new committee was named the Distance Education Committee (DEC) and first met on April 7, 2010.
The ad-hoc committee’s final report to the Faculty Senate provides further details concerning that committee’s work and recommendations.
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