Online Model Course Program

Online Model Course Program PowerpointIn Spring 2013, Academic Affairs launched a new program under the Distance Education Department to guide and support the development of fully online GE Pathway courses. This Online Model Course Program meets a variety of student, faculty and College goals and accreditation requirements. The following guide has been developed to ensure PCC faculty members are aware of the program’s benefits, structure and intended outcomes. If you have any questions regarding the Online Model Course Program, feel free to contact the Interim Director of Distance Education, Dr. Leslie Tirapelle or the Academic Affairs Office.


Program Overview

What is the Online Model Course Program @PCC?

The Online Model Course Program supports the development of a fully online General Education pathway to increase opportunities for student access. Model Courses establish a consistent standard in course content, assignments and assessments across sections in a course.

Model Courses:

  • Satisfy curriculum requirements as set forth by the representative program approved by the Curriculum and Instruction Committee
  • Meet stringent Federal and State regulatory requirements and ACCJC accreditation standards
  • Utilize best practices that support student success


Why is there an Online Model Course Program @PCC?

The Online Model Course Program was created in response to PCC’s Educational Master Plan, specifically to:

  • A2.2 Develop more hybrid and online courses to expand the availability of transfer and CTE courses
  • C2.1 Enhance and grow distance learning programs, hybrid and online courses
  • D2.4 Guarantee timely progression through degree and certificate programs
  • G5 Align course section offerings with student demand


What are the benefits of the Online Model Course Program?

Online Model Courses benefit students, faculty and the College.

Stakeholder Benefit


  • Provides greater access to high need/high demand sections
  • Allows for flexibility and greater access to goal attainment
  • Creates a consistent, high quality, engaging and accessible experience for students


  • Offers a ready-to-use learner-centered course for current, new, and adjunct faculty, if they choose
  • Gives faculty greater opportunities to focus on differentiating instruction


  • Creates substantial development cost savings; no need to develop entirely new versions of the course with each faculty member
  • Has less demand on physical facilities

Course Development

What is the role of the Distance Education Department in Online Model Course Development?

The Distance Education Department faculty provides in-house training and guidance for online course development and facilitation through the Course Developer Institute and Facilitator Training. Using an external and nationally recognized rubric by Quality Matters, the discipline faculty are aided and supported in the creation of quality online courses.

What is the Course Developer Institute?

The Course Developer Institute is a semester-long in-house training program that is a PCC-specific alternative to the training offerings through the @One Project (as stated in the Pasadena Area Community College District Policy for Distance Education #3230). The Institute is designed to meet the same quality standards as @One with a focus on the development and building of courses using Canvas, PCC’s Learning Management System.

Who can develop Model Courses?

Faculty hiring, assignment, and development of course content follow the same college policies as face-to-face courses. Pasadena Area Community College District Policy for Distance Education #3230 does require that faculty complete specific pedagogical and technical training prior to teaching in an online or hybrid format. As a comprehensive training/development program, participating faculty in the Online Model Course Program are not required to have prior distance education experience.

All Model Course Developers are content specialists in their field and are qualified to develop content and teach in their discipline.

The Deans consult with discipline faculty as part of his/her process in selecting a Model Course Developer and forwards their name(s) to the Distance Education Department.

What is the Online Model Course contract?

The Online Model Course contract offers faculty a stipend for online course content development. Stipends are awarded upon successful completion of the Course Development Institute and satisfactory review of course design, with sample course modules, using the Quality Matters Rubric. Even though the District retains ownership of the Model Courses, faculty course developers may submit a written request, to the Senior VP/Assistant Superintendent of Academic & Student Affairs to use the course content for his/her personal benefit or for the benefit of a third person or entity.

What does a Model Course include?

The Course Outline of Record and Distance Education Addendum guide course development, in addition to the Board approved Distance Education Policy. These ensure that the College’s distance education courses meet best practices, Title 5 and Federal regulations, as well as WASC/ACCJC requirements.

Model Courses include:

  1. Multiple and varied forms of assessment (both formative and summative)
  2. Course content equivalent to that in face-to-face course sections
  3. Modules that include:
    • Weekly objectives
    • Interactive activities that can include: discussions, collaborations, and project set-up for assignments/assessments
    • Rich (interactive/multimedia) content elements
    • Weekly review


Course Facilitation

What is a Course Facilitator?

A Facilitator is a term in distance education that is “used interchangeably with online teacher or online educator“(iNACOL 8). At PCC a Facilitator is the Instructor of Record for a Model Course, who works with the established Model Course curriculum to instruct, moderate and engage students in the online environment for the same amount of hours per week that they would in a face-to-face course. Facilitators are encouraged to incorporate their voice and expertise into the course, i.e. via course announcements and discussion board responses, but must keep the core content and assessments intact.

Deans follow the same processes for faculty assignment as on-ground courses. Once determined, Deans forward the name(s) of faculty to the Distance Education Department for inclusion in Facilitator Training.

International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). The Online Learning Definitions Project. 2011. Web. 21 Oct 2013.

Note, while INACOL was originally for K-12, it is known collectively as the “National Standards for Quality Online Courses”. It is the basis for distance education standards in many higher education institutions and programs including the UC system and the CA Chancellor’s Office’s statewide Community College Online Initiative.


What is Facilitator Training?

Facilitator Training is a 10-week hybrid course for those instructors who are teaching from a Model Course. The course focuses on specific aspects of online facilitation and student engagement through discussions, reflections and observations.


Course Revision

Who is responsible for Online Model Course revision?

Procedures for a course revision cycle are not yet formalized. Currently, most Model Course developers continue to oversee the quality of content and design on their own volition.

Additional Questions

Do faculty have to use a Model Course?

Faculty who have completed all the @One Training, or equivalent, as specified in the Pasadena Area Community College District Policy for Distance Education #3230, are not required to use an Online Model Course, but are welcome to if they so choose. If fully trained faculty members develop their own course, it must meet required DE standards and be in line with Division/Program guidelines and/or goals.

What other options are there for training to teach online?

Faculty are welcome to complete training courses through the @One Project. The Distance Education Department will provide a scholarship code to waive registration fees. The required courses are:

  • Introduction to Online Teaching and Learning
  • Building Online Community with Social Media
  • Creating Accessible Online Courses
  • Designing Effective Assessments
Last Updated on: January 28, 2014 @ 12:12 am