Professionals from across the VCCS are collaborating to develop a process, resources, and tools with which VCCS institutions may share a system-level quality review process for distance learning programs, as well as support individual college internal course design and delivery review through the development of VCCS specific rubrics, processes, resources, tools, and training. Current quality assurance review processes are oftentimes cost prohibitive and may not reflect the goals of our VCCS campuses or the Opportunity 2027 and Virginia One strategic plans. To prepare a work-ready population in a post-pandemic educational landscape, the VCCS workgroup, comprised of administrators, faculty, and instructional technologists from Brightpoint CC, Southwest Virginia CC, Mountain Empire CC, the Systems Office, Mountain Gateway CC, Reynolds CC, Laurel Ridge CC, Tidewater CC, and Northern Virginia CC, are attempting to aid sister campuses facing these challenges with a sustainable and affordable solution.
This project was born from the need to meet the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions’ (C-RAC) 21st Century Guidelines which, effective January 2023, require distance learning programs to be externally reviewed on a regular cycle. Gabriel Scala Olmstead, Chair of the workgroup and Dean of Distance Learning at Brightpoint CC, stated: “By developing a system-wide process, along with resources and tools for implementing that process, the workgroup hopes to mitigate the challenge of meeting these new regulations for all of our colleges. Having a model that can bridge workforce and academic approaches to excellence in distance learning is another major benefit of the work being conducted by this group.”
The group, which has been meeting since late March 2022, met with representatives from SUNY Online, the Colorado Community College System, the California Community College System, Peralta Equity Rubrics, a SACSCOC reviewer, and faculty and program chairs from across the VCCS at the beginning of August. Those meetings provided valuable insight and shared knowledge and led to the workgroup’s collaboration with Will Hatheway, a quality assurance specialist at NOVA and doctoral student at George Mason University, who is leading the process of interviewing a wide variety of stakeholders from colleges across the system, such as a broader faculty focus group, students, institutional researchers, student support services groups, workforce officers, SACS-COC representatives, and college deans and VPs in an effort to include all voices in the development of both the tools and processes and to deliver the best product to support colleges in their quality efforts.
The workgroup presented at the November VCCS HireED conference and submitted a proposal to present at New Horizons later this year. At the conference, the team hopes to gain further insight into college goals and perspectives on institutional readiness for offering effective distance learning programming. Given the depth and breadth of the project, initial implementation is expected in the Fall of 2024.