Regular & Substantive Interaction
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The goal of this document is to provide a clear understanding of “Regular and Substantive Interaction” in a Distance Education (DE) environment.* Developing a definition of regular and effective contact is extremely important at helping students to be successful.  In addition, ACCJC Standard II.A.1 requires that colleges provide their own definitions and guidelines for best practices for “regular and substantive” interaction between instructor and students. Accordingly, the following illustrates the minimum responsibilities for faculty to achieve proactive, regular and effective contact.

Recommended Minimum Responsibilities for Regular and Substantive Interaction

It is recommended that DE Instructors implement the following, at minimum:

  • Online Lecture Material
    • Definition of Online Lecture Material: 
      • For the purposes of Regular and Substantive Interaction, Online Lecture Material consists of the electronic delivery of original course-related instructional content prepared by the instructor and made available to students within the district’s learning management system (LMS). Online Lecture Material may be delivered in a variety of accessible formats, including text-only content pages, posted documents, transcripted audio recordings with or without synchronized slides, and captioned video recordings.
    • Online Lecture Material must be comparable to an equivalent face-to-face course.
    • Publisher prepared Online Lecture Materials or introductions are accepted provided they are a “virtual equivalent” of the face-to-face class. 
  • Regular threaded discussion forums within the LMS, with appropriate instructor participation and clear instructions for student-to-student communication. This is in addition to “Q /A” and/or “Ask the Professor” forums. 
    • For example, a 3 unit full-term course would require students to participate in at least one discussion forum a week.
      • A short-term course would have the discussion forums redistributed as appropriate.
    • Example of student-to-student communication: Students must reply to at least 1 other student’s post before the due date and time.
  • Regular announcements posted in the LMS or Class emails. 
    • For example, a 3 unit full-term course would have at least one instructor initiated announcement/email a week.
      • A short-term course should have the instructor initiated announcement/email redistributed as appropriate.
  • Timely responses to student emails. Timely is defined as two business days, excluding holidays and weekends.
  • Timely instructor feedback on student work. 

Additional Forms of Contact with Students

In addition to these required forms of contact, DE instructors are encouraged to use additional forms of communication as needed. These may include the following:

  • Group or individual meetings 
  • Orientation and review sessions 
  • Supplemental seminar or study sessions 
  • Field trips 
  • Library workshops 
  • Telephone contact 
  • Correspondence 
  • Voicemail 
  • Individual email 
  • CCCConfer (a web conferencing tool that is free to the California Community College System. 
  • Video conference 
  • Regular podcasts/vodcasts 
  • Virtual Office Hours via the chat function of the LMS 
  • Other synchronous or asynchronous methods as appropriate (It is suggested that Instructors should have a threaded discussion that is set aside for general questions about the course and may wish to have weekly or other timely, question and answer sessions available to students. This may also be accomplished through virtual office hours.)

*Modified from Victor Valley College Regular Effective Contact Requirement for Distance Education Classes