About Distance Education

In short, ONLINE courses meet completely online whereas HYBRID courses have one or more class meetings on campus (such as a lab, orientation, or proctored test). For a more complete definition of these courses, please refer to the Types of Distance Education Courses page.

All distance education courses at PCC must be taught using CANVAS, the College’s Learning Management System. This is to ensure that there is consistency, reliability, and dependability in the delivery of online and hybrid courses. In addition, the CANVAS system has tools that help to protect student privacy, ensure authentication status, and aid instructors in creating courses that are accessible to all students.

For accreditation purposes, the College also needs to have documentation that instructors have regular effective contact with their students, that is, that instructors have kept in contact with their students on a regular and timely basis. Regular effective contact is a state requirement to make certain that online and hybrid courses deliver the same quality of instruction as their face-to-face counterparts. While you are encouraged to explore other interactive media and social networking, the starting point for this must originate through the CANVAS system.

For these reasons, you cannot be assigned to teach or deliver a distance education course that does not use the CANVAS system.

If you have never taught distance education courses before, they do require a new set of skills – technical, pedagogical, and organizational.  To see if you have the skills necessary to teach online, check out our teaching online resources.

Faculty Training

According to the PCC Policy on Distance Education, all faculty members must have some training and/or experience in the online teaching environment prior to teaching distance education courses. 

If you are new to distance education, you will need to complete four 4-week courses in order to be cleared to teach. This process takes about 2 full semesters. Check out the New Online and Hybrid Faculty Training page for more information.

If you have been teaching distance education courses at PCC within the past 5 years, you should check out the Existing Online and Hybrid Instructor Training page, which gives detailed information about which courses or workshops you can take to update your skills and also stay current in new developments in online learning.

If you are new to PCC but have taught distance education courses at another institution before, you should check out the Faculty Waiver for Previous Teaching page, which gives detailed information about the courses or workshops you need to take in order to understand distance education policies at PCC.

If you haven’t taught distance education courses but have taken coursework in online pedagogy, you should check out the Faculty Training Waiver for Previous Coursework page to see what the requirements are to teach at PCC.

Course Development & Materials

The process to develop an online or hybrid course can take up to a year, and depends on several different factors, such as:

  • If it is an existing course.
  • How much experience and training you have in online instruction.
  • If a supplemental Form D is already on file for the course.

It is important for you to understand the distance education course development timeline and the amount of time it can take to become trained to teach online, develop, and submit your course (about 300 hours per course). For more detailed information, check out the Course Development & Materials section of the Distance Education Faculty Handbook.

Form D is a supplemental form that undergoes the C&I approval process. It gives more information about how the course will be taught and assessed in the online environment, is required by California state Title 5 regulations (Section 55206 for Separate Course Approval), and shows that courses meet quality standards for best practices in distance education, regular effective contact, and accessibility.

Credit/Non-Credit courses need to file or update Form D every 5 years. CTE courses need to file or update Form D every 2 years.

For more information about filing Form D, check out the Form D section of the Distance Education Faculty Handbook.

e-Packs, also known as Course Cartridges are electronic publisher courses that you can use in your online and hybrid classes. While e-Packs might seem like a simple solution to online course development and do provide a lot of engaging and rich content, they can pose legal, financial, accessibility, privacy, pedagogical, and technical problems that might outweigh their benefits. For more detailed information about these issues, check out the e-Packs section of the Distance Education Faculty Handbook.

Before considering an e-Pack, contact the Distance Education Department to make certain it complies with legal, privacy and accessibility requirements.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are basically free or low-cost resources that have been openly licensed (or licensed under Creative Commons, meaning often you can use or modify materials as long as you attribute the author). You’ll find that there is a wide range of courses (called Courseware), eTextbooks, eBooks, and multimedia content available.

OER are great resources to use in the online classroom! With the rising costs of educational materials, they are an affordable alternative for many students. To find out more about OER, check out the OER section of the Distance Education Faculty Handbook.

Course Registration, Login, and Access

The process to enroll in distance education courses is the same as face-to-face classes. Students can register using the online registration system, https://lancerpoint.pasadena.edu/.

It is important, however, for students to take note of any additional information or requirements for their course listed in the Schedule of Classes, such as on-campus meetings or other specific instructions, like emailing the instructor directly prior to the first day of class.

In order to log in to CANVAS, you must have a PCC Network ID and a password. You can use this to log in directly onto the CANVAS system, https://canvas.pasadena.edu/.

Student usernames are their LancerPoint ID and passwords. They can use this to log in directly onto the CANVAS system, https://canvas.pasadena.edu/.

The problem is probably that you have not been officially assigned to the course in the Schedule of Classes. Contact your Department Head to make certain that you are listed as the Instructor of Record on the course. Once you have been officially assigned to a course and listed as the Instructor of Record, the course should show up on your CANVAS Course List.

If you are still having problems, please contact Distance Education for assistance.

If students are having trouble logging into your CANVAS course, it can be one of two things. First, make certain that you have published your course. If the course is available, then the student hasn’t been officially enrolled in the course yet. If it is a student who has just added the course, you can remind them that it can take up to 24 hours to see their course listed on their CANVAS Course List.

Courses in CANVAS can have a College/Student Assistant as a TA. In order to do so and to comply with FERPA privacy considerations, faculty members must submit a written request to the Distance Education DepartmentThe TA must be employed by PCC and have paperwork on file with HR. They will only be given the role of TA in the system and not Instructor.

If the course Instructor of Record wishes to add an additional faculty member to their course, the visiting faculty member can be granted an Auditor role.

Policies & Procedures

The Add/Drop Policies for distance education courses follow the same guidelines as face-to-face courses. Administrative Add/Drops to CANVAS courses are done automatically through MIS Online Services.

You’ll need to take into account a few key considerations that are unique to the distance education environment, however.

Drop Policy:

  • If you are teaching online courses, you must create a course Check-In Assignment that is equivalent to ‘the first day of class’ in a f2f class. This must be described in the course Welcome Letter and course syllabus. Any student who does not check-in to their CANVAS course by the date specified in the Schedule of Classes MUST be dropped from the course. (This date is usually set for 48 hours after the course begins.)
  • If you are teaching hybrid courses with an on-campus orientation, you must drop students that do not attend unless prior arrangements have been made.
  • Students who do not actively participate in online and hybrid courses must be dropped. New Federal guidelines to prevent financial aid fraud state that student logins no longer count as participation.
  • Please see the Participation section in the Distance Education Faculty Handbook for more detailed information about what constitutes participation in distance education courses.

Add Policy:

  • On the first day of class, you will receive add codes with your course rosters and can then directly contact students and provide them with add codes.
  • Students must add the course within 24 hours.
  • It is important to remember that students must be added in the order they appear on the waitlist.

For more detailed information about add/drop policies, please refer to the Add/Drop section of the Distance Education Faculty Handbook.

The PCC Academic Senate Faculty Committee on Online Education and Task Force has developed recommendations for policies related to faculty working conditions. These recommendations have been approved by the Academic Senate Committee. Once the final proposal is passed by the Faculty Association, the items will be published in the faculty contract.

To get an idea of the pending policies, please refer to the PCC Faculty Policies section of the Distance Education Handbook.

The PCC Academic Senate Distance Education Committee and Task Force have developed recommendations for policies related to office hours. Once they are approved by the Faculty Association, the items will be published in the faculty contract.

General office hour guidelines:

  • Online office hours cannot be more than 40% of the total number of hours required.
  • The maximum number of online office hours is 2.25 hours (2 hours and 15 minutes).
  • The remaining percentage of office hours, 3.25 hours (3 hours and 15 minutes — 60%), must be held on campus.
  • Office hours must be posted on the online course syllabus as well as any other place the Division requires.

For more specific guidelines on office hours, please refer to the PCC Faculty Policies section of the Distance Education Faculty Handbook.

The Distance Education Department is currently working on putting the course evaluation process for distance education faculty fully online. This will be done through Enrollment Management using Scantron Online. Administrative and peer evaluations can also be done on this system. Once this process is in place, training will be available for peer and administrative evaluators of online courses.

Distance Education Student Surveys are different from faculty evaluations. The data from these surveys will be used to assess course compliance with Title 5 and WASC regulations and will not be linked to faculty course evaluations.

Faculty Support

The Distance Education Department is committed to providing you with any support you will need to develop and teach your courses. We provide technical support, orientations, and workshops for professional development, and are happy to consult with you on an as-needed basis.

We’ve also created the PCC Distance Education Faculty Handbook which has a lot of information and many resources about developing and teaching online/hybrid courses.