Guidelines for Good Practice: Effective Instructor-Student Contact in Distance Learning

Distance Learning
Technology Committee

This position paper of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges further elaborates the Academic Senate's existing positions on distance education and the effective use of technology in instruction. In particular it examines the implications of a 1998 change in the Title 5 regulations governing distance education in California community colleges, especially with regard to instructor-student contact. The paper begins with a review of good practices in technology mediated instruction and proceeds to consider and make recommendations on effective instructor-student contact. Many of the recommendations apply equally to courses offered in any mode of instruction, but the paper specifically addresses local curriculum committees as they decide how to apply these recommendations in their review of distance education course proposals. The paper briefly mentions some unresolved issues in the area of faculty collective bargaining. Finally the paper makes recommendations for action by local academic senates to ensure that the curriculum review process for distance education courses separately documents effective instructor-student contact, technical support, accessibility and provision of support services to students.


The Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges recommends to local academic senates that they:

  1. ensure that the local Curriculum Committee performs a separate review of courses offered by distance education, as required by Title 5 '55378,
  2. ensure that this separate review considers both the information transfer and the instructor-student contact aspects of the course,
  3. ensure that this separate review of instructor-student contact addresses the methods to be used, their effectiveness, and their frequency,
  4. ensure that this separate review considers the availability of technical support for faculty and students,
  5. ensure that this separate review considers issues of access for students with disabilities,
  6. ensure that adequate support services are provided to distance education students, by consulting with counseling and library faculty, and
  7. consult with local bargaining agents on distance education issues that involve working conditions.
Publication file