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Frequently Asked Questions

Developing Correspondence Courses

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How do I develop a correspondence self-paced course?

Contact the director of the Office of Distance and Extended Learning at distanceed@txstate.edu to determine the viability and demand of the course you are interested in teaching. Then, schedule your self-paced correspondence faculty orientation with the Office of Distance and Extended Learning. You will be given direction in preparing your course content for delivery in TRACS via self-paced correspondence study. Before developing a correspondence self-paced course, you must obtain the approval of your departmental chair and college dean.

How long does it take to develop a correspondence self-paced course?

It typically takes a semester to develop an online self-paced correspondence course. The course production staff will work with you to establish a course development timeline and opening date.

What guidance/informational resources are available to me for developing a correspondence self-paced course?

The Office of Distance and Extended Learning offers strong support in the production of your online correspondence self-paced course. An instructional designer will assist you throughout the course development process.

Can I create a correspondence self-paced course for college credit that is not currently offered on campus?

Generally speaking, no. The course must be listed in the Texas State catalog. However, if a course is listed in the catalog but is rarely offered on campus, it is eligible for correspondence self-paced study, provided that the department and college approve.

Can I create a non-credit correspondence self-paced course?

This is determined on a case-by-case basis. The director of the Office of Distance and Extended Learning must assess the viability of and demand for such a course.

Instructing Correspondence Courses

How does teaching a correspondence self-paced course work?

Distance education is different from conventional classroom-based education in that it allows a student to complete courses and programs without attending scheduled group classes in a central location, such as a university campus. Correspondence students

  • can enroll in a course at any time since courses are not tied to a particular semester;
  • work from anywhere, such as their home or workplace; and
  • work at their own pace, on a schedule that suits their individual needs, but must complete the course within 9 months.

The correspondence self-paced course instructor (who likely teaches the same course in face-to-face format) has full responsibility for the course. Faculty members ensure that course content and materials reflect current standards within the discipline and that grading is consistent. Faculty members create learning opportunities through the following:

  • explicit instruction on goals of the course
  • a suggested schedule to follow in completing course activities
  • access to expertise in the content area
  • instruction organized into activities
  • guidance in completing activities and assignments

The Office of Distance and Extended Learning strongly encourages all correspondence faculty to offer online or traditional office hours. Instructors may schedule specific telephone office hours or specific times within a chat room when groups of students may go online to have questions answered. Instructors also respond through threaded discussions or individual E-mail, and they make general announcements through the course website. Contact information is available in the syllabus.

Read the excellent article, “10 Things I've Learned About Teaching Online.”

How much time will I need to devote to my correspondence self-paced course?

This will vary depending on the number of students enrolled for the course. The time needed will also depend on the structure of assignments; for instance, assignments involving essay questions will be more time-consuming, while objective questions can usually be graded rather quickly. You can get an idea of the popularity your course will have based on the interest students show in its on-campus counterpart. However, always plan to devote enough time to promote the success of your students.

How much contact am I required to have with students?

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which provides accreditation for Texas State, requires that all instructors, including correspondence faculty, have contact with students. The preferred methods of student-teacher interaction for correspondence self-paced courses are within the TRACS course site or via email.

How much feedback am I required to provide?

Treat questions with the same respect and consideration you would give to questions from on-campus students. Answer questions students submit to you regarding course material and provide enough feedback on assignments and exams so that students are able to progress through the course material. If you find that a student needs excessive individual help, please direct him or her to SMARTHINKING, the online tutoring service available to Texas State correspondence students. For policy-related questions, direct students to the Office of Distance and Extended Learning.

May I accept assignments directly from and return assignments directly to a student?

No. The Office of Distance and Extended Learning tracks all assignments and student grades. We also track students' course completion rates and cannot keep a record of student progress unless assignments are submitted in TRACS, or through our office for hard-copy assignments.

What are the options to deal with academic dishonesty?

We encourage study groups, but each student is responsible for her or his own work. We subscribe to the Texas State University Honor Code, and follow the same procedures in addressing dishonesty that apply on campus. If you suspect one of your correspondence students of academic dishonesty, contact the director of the Office of Distance and Extended Learning.

How long must I commit to teaching a correspondence self-paced course I author?

You are required to teach a course you author for at least two years from the date the Office of Distance and Extended Learning opens the course.

What happens if I decide to quit teaching my course?

If your course is still viable, we ask that you help us locate a replacement faculty member to assume grading for the course.

What technical system requirements, such as special software, are required to teach a correspondence self-paced course?

Faculty who develop and teach courses via correspondence must host the course within TRACS. Correspondence faculty also need to have a computer with an Internet connection and an active Texas State email account.

Do you offer a grading service?

No; however, you are compensated for each student who enrolls in and completes the course.

Grading

What happens if I am not able to grade submissions for more than five days, or if I am absent from the Texas State campus?

If you will be gone for more than a week, either find a replacement grader or make arrangements for the Office of Distance and Extended Learning.

What is the procedure to change a grade?

The procedure for changing a correspondence self-paced course grade is the same method you use to change a grade for a course on campus. Complete a change-of-grade card, which is available from your academic department. Obtain your chair and dean's signatures for the card, and then make a copy of the card. Send the copy to the Office of Distance and Extended Learning and the original to the Registrar. You may also send only the original to the Office of Distance and Extended Learning, and we will make a copy and submit the original to the registrar.

What happens if I forget to record a grade?

The Office of Distance and Extended Learning tracks all correspondence course grades, so contact us.

Payment

Do I get paid for writing and developing a correspondence self-paced course?

Contact the Office of Distance and Extended Learning for specific rates of pay.

How am I compensated for teaching a correspondence self-paced course?

The amount you receive is determined by the number of students who enroll in and complete your course. Contact our office for specific rates of pay.

When should I expect payment for developing a course?

Payment for course development is initiated once the course content and the exams have been reviewed, an instructional designer with the Office of Distance and Extended Learning confirms the course is complete, and the course has obtained the required approvals from both the faculty member and the department chair.

When should I expect payment for teaching correspondence courses?

The university pays correspondence faculty four times a year: in February, May, August, and November.

Will my check be directly deposited into my account?

You will receive payment for correspondence self-paced courses in the same way you receive your regular paycheck: by direct deposit. You may make the arrangements directly with Payroll.