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e-Learning Policy (suspended indefinitely)

Policy Administrator: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

Authority: PM 95-01

Effective Date: December 19, 2019

Updated: April 26, 2001; February 11, 2010; October 3, 2013, November 21, 2019

Index Cross-References: FS 01-23; FS 09-78; FS 13/14-16; FS 19/20-63; FS 19/20-63

Policy File Number: ACA-160

e-LEARNING POLICY (suspended indefinitely)

Policy Statement:

The policy applies to all matriculated e-Learning courses and degree/certificate programs offered by California State University, Sacramento.  It is not the intent of this policy to supplant any existing policies set forth by the University, but where necessary, to define new or to expand existing policies and procedures to ensure the most effective implementation and support of e-Learning courses and programs.

Who the Policy applies to:

Faculty, advisors, academic unit chairs, program directors, graduate and undergraduate coordinators.

Why the Policy is necessary:

The policy provides protocols and guidelines for all e-Learning courses and degree/certificate programs offered by California State University, Sacramento. The policy encourages and enables faculty to develop quality hybrid and fully online courses.

The policy proposes:

1) a curriculum/consultancy form for any newly proposed course in which >50% of the instruction time is conveyed in a digital environment; and

2) a review process for all e-Learning designated courses at three-year intervals.

The policy also clarifies that an equal amount of teaching per credit hour is required for e-Learning designated and face to face courses.


Academic Unit Chairs/Program Directors:  Completes the survey form for all current and proposed
e-Learning courses.

Academic Affairs and Academic Technology Committee (ATC):  Verifies with Academic Technology and Creative Services (ATCS) that all course listed as primarily on-line or fully on-line have been through the appropriate review procedures.


1. During schedule development, courses should receive the appropriate attribute as primarily online or fully online. The current tags are as follows:

FT - Face to face
FO - Face to face online
LO - Local online
RO - Remote, online
HY - Hybrid
FL – Flexible

2. Prior to the start of the semester ATC will compile a list of each course with online components. ATC currently does this. This list will be sent to Academic Affairs.

3. Academic Affairs will verify with ATC the curriculum and/or survey form has been completed by the academic unit offering the course. If it hasn't, Academic Affairs will request these from the academic unit (the curriculum form for new online courses, and the survey form at three-year intervals for existing online courses). There is no approval process after the academic unit submits the form, only verification that the form has been submitted.

Approved by:

Robert S. Nelsen, President 

December 19, 2019


e-Learning Policy


This policy shall apply to all matriculated e-Learning courses and degree/certificate programs offered by California State University, Sacramento. It is not the intent of this policy to supplant any existing policies set forth by the University, but where necessary, to define new or to expand existing policies and procedures to ensure the most effective implementation and support of e-Learning courses and programs.

E-Learning is defined as a formal educational process in which instruction takes place in its entirety or partially through computer-mediated communications, when the professor and students are not in the same place at the same time. Instead, the interaction between professor and students is mediated using digital text, audio, video, and/or other interactive computer technologies.

E-Learning courses typically use a variety of technologies to deliver instruction and engage students (see section 3). These technologies and their respective pedagogical approaches continue to evolve, and this policy allows the University to meet the demands of student expectations as well as continue to provide broad based high-quality educational opportunity to all its students.

 1.        General Guidelines

1.1       Through their respective academic units or divisions, once course is approved to be taught in online mode, faculty of record are responsible for deciding the modality of their courses, how e-Learning techniques and technologies will be incorporated into them, and which degree/certificate programs will, based on WASC guidelines and recommendations be offered using exclusively e-Learning At a minimum, faculty using e-Learning technologies should familiarize themselves both with those technologies and with best practices (see section 2). By locating academic decision-making within academic units or divisions, the policy reinforces the belief that those closest to curriculum implementation best understand which courses and programs are suited for an e-Learning format.

1.2       In keeping with standard course development and evaluation processes, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Academic Technology Center (ATC) will provide consulting services to those academic units and faculty who wish (1) to engage in eLearning and to develop supplementary course evaluation tools for their e-Learning offerings (currently, the process of course evaluation is facilitated by ATC). Faculty of record for courses supported by e-Learning technologies, department chairs, program directors and/or faculty evaluation committees are charged with utilizing student course evaluation data in a responsible manner consistent with extant academic unit policies and procedures related to the maintenance of quality instruction, and other curricular policies. Additionally, wherever such tools make use of student-generated data (even in aggregate) for scholarly and other purposes, they must be approved by IRB.  

1.3       In addition to those best practices outlined in this policy (see section 2), academic units or colleges are strongly encouraged to adopt additional guidelines specific to their discipline relating to the creation or scheduling of online courses. These guidelines must be consistent with existing University curricular policies and meet standards for online learning and teaching as set out by the Chancellor’s Office.

 1.4       As with all courses and programs delivered via e-Learning, modalities must satisfy current CSU policy dealing with accessibility to information resources and technologies to all students, including individuals with disabilities.

1.5.       Prior approval by the relevant academic unit and the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs is required for any individual or academic unit to contract with any private or public entity to design, transport, and/or produce content for e-Learning courses or programs on behalf of California State University, Sacramento. This policy does not include publisher related course work.

 2.        Best Practices

E-Learning best practices, as identified in the  CSU Online Learning White Paper incorporate the following features (adapted from CSU-OLWP 2012: 4, 28) CSU Online Learning White Paper

  1. Creation of a student-centered learning environment by providing essential information in static form addresses the need for a detailed syllabus including student support services, technical training, equipment needs, and explicit communication on course expectations as components of student-centered
  2. Creation of an active and engaging learning environment with dynamic activities is facilitated to promote interactions and engagement through what is identified as social, teaching, and content presence as well as the creation of online course 
  3. Active presence in the course enhances online education through faculty interactions with students and the maintenance of a constant presence in online Active presence can be achieved through the use of text-based technologies like forums, wikis, and instant messaging technologies or media rich applications like video-conferencing technologies.
  4.  Prompt response to student inquiries is identified as especially important in online courses, with faculty advised to post response times for students both during the week as well as on
  5.  Promotion of student learning success through course organization and feedback requires online courses that are well organized, easy for students to navigate, are predictable, and provide ongoing student
  6.  Communication that is clear, polite, and wide describes the importance of polite, precise, careful, constructive, and widely disseminated communication throughout online
  7. Quality assurance is a best practice that needs to be started prior to initiation of the course and maintained throughout the course through the use of student evaluations and comments regarding online experiences. Like all courses, e-Learning modalities must align with course objectives specified in the course approval process. Demonstration of teaching effectiveness must be consistent with RTP guidelines for each academic unit.

 3.        Definitions

Based on the Academic Senate of the California State University (March, 2014) resolution, the designation of course modalities for online instruction are the following: Courses are to be defined according to the definitions listed below. The Registrar’s office will designate the course delivery format for individual courses in the schedule according to these definitions.  Academic Programs should also use the same designations.

FT or Face-to-Face, Traditional: Instruction occurs in real time (synchronously), with student(s) and faculty physically present in the same location.

FO or Face-to-Face, On-line: Instruction occurs in real time (synchronously), with student(s) and faculty present via technology (e.g. television, tele-conference, video-conference or chat).

LO or Local, Online: Instruction occurs over the Internet (asynchronously). Scheduled face-to-face meetings may be required for orientation and student evaluation.

RO or Remote, Online: Instruction occurs over the Internet (asynchronously). Students do not need to be on campus for any portion of coursework.

HY or Hybrid: A course offering that combines FT and FO/LO/RO. To be considered hybrid, a course will meet via FO/LO/RO for roughly 25%-75% of class sessions.

FL or Flexible: Course allows for more than one modality; students choose the modality (or modalities) suiting their needs from instructor identified options.

4.        Standards for eLearning

The Sacramento State approved resources include those listed in 4.1 and 4.2. Faculty providing online courses are encouraged to adopt use of these or other approved standards by the eLearning community.

4.1       Quality Matters Program Rubric: The Quality Matters created a list of broad standards, comprising more than 40 specific elements that can be used to evaluate the design of online and hybrid The web-based, fully interactive rubric includes annotations that explain the application of the standards and the relationships among them.
4.2       CSU Quality Learning and Teaching (QLT) instrument, developed by CSU faculty, consists of 10 sections, and is comprised of 57 specific review The QLT instrument has been adopted and adapted by various CSU campuses.


5.        Institutional Support for e-Learning Courses

Many times, faculty must serve as the de facto front-line support resource for e-Learning technologies. It is because of this that technology-enhanced learning along with its technology-driven delivery more often than not requires an increased skill set to contend with the multitude of challenges that arise.

Technological readiness is extremely important to the success of any online course. Inadequate technological readiness disrupts student learning and e-Learning efforts and generally manifests itself in course evaluations. It is therefore required that colleges or academic units who are interested in pursuing e-Learning education become familiar with the standards and best practices associated with e-Learning.

5.1.      Faculty Support: It is easy to underestimate the effort and skill required of faculty to convert from a conventional classroom format to an e-Learning format. It is even easier to underestimate the effort and skill required of faculty to change from professor-centered classroom activities to the genuinely learner-centered activities made possible by technology. Consequently, faculty who develop e-Learning courses are to be commended. Academic units are therefore encouraged to make appropriate resources available for these faculty in order that they might achieve e-Learning-related goals. Workload calculations should be uniform and consistent with guidelines currently used to determine assigned time for excess enrollment, for differences in course classification, and for faculty to make use of support available for both technology and pedagogy. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Academic Technology Center (ATC) regularly offer a wide range of both workshops, discussion groups and other training opportunities in the area of e-Learning and technology skills. Faculty who teach or plan to teach e-Learning courses are encouraged to attend those training sessions necessary for them to acquire the pedagogical knowledge and technological skill set required for quality e-Learning.

5.1.1 Technology Support: In order to facilitate instruction that is appropriate for selected technologies, professional support in the use of the technology is Such support shall include: Training in the use of tools, applications, and transport Development and production of online and mediated Ongoing consultation with Academic Technology Center, and/or College Instructional Technology (IT)

5.1.2  e-Learning Support: In order to facilitate instruction that is pedagogically effective, faculty members teaching e-Learning courses shall have access to pedagogy support from faculty and staff involved in e-Learning. Such support shall include: Instructional design. Effective pedagogical uses of specific technology Assessment strategies Ongoing consultation with designated CTL faculty

5.1.3 Staff of CTL and ATC will meet periodically to discuss, cooperate, and collaborate on e-Learning issues and matters of mutual concern.

5.2.      Student Support Services: Support for online courses must be available both on campus and fully online. All regularly matriculated University students receiving instruction through e-Learning shall be provided equivalent access to the basic student support services offered on this campus for which they are eligible. These may include admission, course registration services, academic advising and orientation, textbook purchasing, financial aid, career development and other special program accommodations as applicable (for example, EOP, Veteran, and Reentry students). For academic units or colleges that are proposing to offer an existing degree/certificate programs in an e-Learning format in which more than half of the major course requirements are offered online, the University shall provide support so that the following programmatic services are available before the program is implemented. These shall:

5.2.1 Include the means for ensuring the academic integrity of student

5.2.2 Include the means for providing the required academic support services and resources (including library, general advising, financial aid, counseling, social support services, ).

5.2.3 Include the means whereby faculty and students will access needed technical

5.2.4 Go through the WASC substantive change proposal process.

5.3       Library Support: The Library shall provide equivalent support for e-Learning courses and programs. Effective and appropriate library services and access to library collections for e-Learning may differ from those services offered on campus but they should be designed to meet a wide range of information and research needs. The requirements of academic programs should guide the Library in its response. Elements of library support available to students taking e-Learning courses may include courier and electronic document delivery, electronic reserves, electronic journals and books, full-text databases, end-user searching, reference assistance and instruction, remote access to networked resources, library resource management services, reciprocal borrowing and interlibrary loan services, cooperative arrangements with other libraries for collection access, and other strategies that emphasize access, evaluation, effective use and management of resources.

5.4       The nature of e-Learning education, makes it is difficult to associate a specific length of online e-learning formats to their traditional, face-to-face classroom counterpart. Additionally, e-Learning typically does not separate out the traditional homework-related activities that are a part of the face-to-face learning experience. In general, e-Learning should be in accordance with the existing CSUS Credit Hour policy.

5.5       Although "seat-time" is still the federal standard for measurement with regard to the credit-hour, built into this standard is an effort to align "time" with "the amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes that is verified through evidence of student achievement." In principle, e-Learning courses must feature a number of weekly course hours that is equivalent with that offered by the same courses in a traditional, face-to-face classroom format to meet learning objectives.

 6. Accessibility

6.1       "The California State University system, pursuant to Executive Order 926, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs, services, and activities are accessible to students, faculty, staff, and the general public. This extends to all information resources and services including web sites and electronic documents. The CSU is further committed to conforming with all legal requirements set forth in California Government Code 11135, Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1996, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act." California State University Accessible Technology Initiative

6.2       Faculty shall make every effort to know and make known to students the technological resources needed to be successful in hybrid, primarily online, or fully online courses including resources targeted to disadvantaged and underrepresented

6.3       "It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of " California State University Accessible Technology Initiative.

6.4       Faculty who are developing online or hybrid courses are required to comply with all laws relative to accessibility of course materials. Faculty should consult with the Center for Teaching and Learning and /or the Academic Technology Center for resources to meet these requirements.


7.       Student Privacy Protection

7.1.      Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulates what student information can and cannot be released by universities without their consent. It is also the policy of the CSU to recognize the right to privacy, a right protected under the California Constitution. Faculty, TAs, guest-speakers, and others instructing in an e-Learning environment shall ensure the privacy of a student's protected information in courses that use external web-based "social" software where a student's identification is required and shared (this includes external tools contained within learning management systems). If students are filmed and/or recorded during e-Learning lectures, the instructor must seek explicit agreement from the students in order to use the recording in future semesters. This may be assisted by way of instructional design templates (see section 9).


8.       Review of e-Learning Practices

8.1.      For the purposes of providing pedagogical and technological support, the Center for Teaching and Learning will conduct, in coordination with the Academic Technology Center, periodical institutional-wide multi-dimensional e-Learning satisfaction surveys of courses that make use of such technologies. This information will be in aggregative form and used for planning and programmatic consultation, not faculty or course evaluation. The survey will focus on practices associated with the online tools themselves (e.g. online discussions with the designated instructional platform) as well as their satisfaction and usage level of the tools (e.g. how often students interact with the online tools).

 9.       Copyright, Patent and Ownership Policy

 9.1       Ownership of materials, faculty compensation, copyright issues, and the utilization of revenue derived from the creation and production of software, e-Learning courses, or other media products shall be agreed upon by the faculty and the University in accordance with the University's Copyright and Patent Policy and guidelines (UMC02750).

 9.2       "As a university system and creators of intellectual property, the California State University system has a significant interest in ensuring that all copyrighted material is protected and that the rights of copyright holders and creators of intellectual property are respected and maintained."

 9.3       It is the policy of the CSU to use any and all information technologies in a manner consistent with federal laws governing copyright protection as outlined in Executive Order 999 - Illegal Electronic File Sharing

 10.   e-Learning Policy Review Process

Commencing with the approval of this policy, every three years the Curriculum Policy Committee of the Faculty Senate shall initiate and carry out a review process to ascertain the need for updates or modifications to the e-Learning policy. The Curriculum Policy Committee shall consult with representatives of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the Academic Technology Center (ATC), College of Continuing Education (CCE), faculty who teach using e-Learning technologies, and the University Library.