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An institution includes a review of its distance learning programs in the Compliance Certification. In order to be in compliance with this policy, the institution must have incorporated an assessment of its compliance with standards that apply to its distance and correspondence education programs and courses.


College response to Comprehensive Standard 3.13.4a


Hillsborough Community College (HCC) reported that they expanded their distance learning as part of a state-wide Substantive Change initiative in 2000 and were approved by SACSCOC in 2001. HCC reports that their entire Gen Ed core can be offered via distance education, as well as other technical courses that can apply to a degree. The institution has 5 programs that can be completed entirely online and are offered via asynchronous technology.

Based upon the extent of distance learning provided by the institution, an assessment of compliance with standards that apply to its distance education programs and courses is required. This assessment was not provided in the following standards:

  • Institutional Effectiveness/Educational Programs

Although the institution provided data on student performance in distance education courses, there was no evidence provided that this data is being used for improvement of student learning nor were off-campus instructional sites addressed with regard to educational program effectiveness.

  • 3.4.6: Practices for Awarding Credit

Although the institution asserted that alternative instructional delivery modes, including distance learning, are designed to provide equivalent educational experiences, no evidence was provided to demonstrate how the amount and level of credit is assigned for such courses.

  • 3.4.9: Academic Support Services

Although the institution’s narrative references online tutoring services, there was no other evidence provided to demonstrate how a range of academic support services are accessible to distance learning students.

  • 3.11.3: Physical Facilities

The institution provided a brief narrative description of its technology infrastructure and referenced a refresh process for computer and multimedia equipment; however, no detail was provided to demonstrate that the technology resources in place appropriately serve the needs of its educational programs and support services delivered via distance learning. Particularly in light of the significant element of distance learning instruction offered by the college, additional information is needed to provide evidence that these facilities adequately serve the college’s mission-related activitiesin relation to distance learning.

The institution should demonstrate that students in distance education programs have an adequate procedure for resolving their complaints, and the institution follows its policies and procedures.

  • 4.6: Recruitment Materials

The institution should provide evidence that advertising and recruiting information adequately and accurately represent the program, requirements, and services available to distance education students.


A compliance assessment of specific standards that apply to distance education programs and courses is provided below., Institutional Effectiveness/Educational Programs

See, Institutional Effectiveness, Educational programs, located elsewhere within this Focused Report for a complete response providing evidence that data are used for the improvement of student learning and educational program effectiveness at off-campus instructional sites. 

3.4.6, Practices for Awarding Credit

Process for how the amount and level of credit is assigned for alternative instructional delivery modes

State regulations Florida DOE Rule 6A-10.033,  Florida Statute 1007.24, and the Florida SCNS Handbook ensure that Hillsborough Community College’s (HCC) policies conform to commonly accepted practice with regard to credit hours in the State of Florida.

Courses offered in nontraditional modes of delivery must be identified as such in the schedule of classes and demonstrate equivalent time and effort through equivalency of learning outcomes as stated in Academic Policies Operations Manual. Regardless of delivery method, all HCC courses bearing the same state prefix, number, and title share the same student learning outcomes; therefore, the amount and level of credit assigned to courses are determined to be the same as their traditional course counterparts based upon outcome equivalency. The HCC Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) reviews and recommends direction on all courses regardless of delivery method that are developed or revised at the College, as described in the Academic Affairs Handbook.  All courses have a course intended outcomes form that lists the approved outcomes for a particular course.

Prior to developing a distance learning or hybrid approach for an existing HCC course, a distance learning approach for a new HCC course (new courses must be approved through the Academic Affairs Process described above first; see ENT 1102), or a distance learning course re-design, faculty file a Distance Learning or Hybrid Implementation Plan with their Academic Dean and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Technology (CITT). This process is detailed in the Distance Learning Operations Manual.  All forms are kept in a Distance Learning Database which allows administrators and faculty to confirm that a course and instructor have been approved for distance learning delivery. Prior to implementation and initial scheduling, an expansion of our policy requires courses to be reviewed by the academic deans to ensure that there is equivalent time and effort through equivalency of learning outcomes when compared to the course offered in a traditional format. The expansion of a dean’s approval on the Distance Learning or Hybrid Implementation Plan prior to scheduling distance learning courses for the first time ensures that outcome equivalency must be established as a condition of implementation.

3.4.9, Academic Support Services

HCC provides a range of academic support services that are accessible to distance learning students. The College ensures that students engaged in distance learning have access to general technology training through their automatic enrollment in an orientation to MyHCC (Canvas), the College’s learning management system (LMS).  

Faculty have also created in-course technology resources (ADA Pearson Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, Canvas Guide for Students, Getting Started in Online Pre-Calculus Algebra with Professor Quinlan, HCC Free Microsoft Office 2013 for Students, Lync Skype Office Hours Tutorial, Pearson MyMathLab Student Registration Handout, How To Download ZIP files, Student Tech Training Examples, Technology Requirements, How to Play the Pencast Lectures ) for students enrolled in distance learning classes. In addition, distance learning students can avail themselves of the online learning resources frequently supplied by the publishers of required course textbooks. For example, the Math Department uses Pearson’s My Math Lab as an online learning and homework assessment tool.Faculty in other discipline departments, such as English, also collectively adopt textbooks bundled with online learning components for student use. Many English faculty use E-textbooks, textbooks with an online component, and/or textbooks that require an online access code. Specifically faculty use a Norton product that includes a textbook with an online component that features grammar quizzes and tutorials; whereas other faculty use a Cengage e-book, The Essentials of Writing: 10 Core Concepts, and a Cengage textbook with an online access code that allows students access to grammar tutorials.

 Distance learning students also have access to online tutoring services, including SmarThinking and the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC). SmarThinking is an online tutorial service which is available 24 hours a day, allowing students to work synchronously and one-on-one with professional tutors via the Web, where they receive assistance with a variety of College courses, including mathematics, science, English, history, economics, humanities, and more.HCC also has purchased access to NROC which is a database containing learning objects, course materials, and other high-quality, online pedagogical resources that instructors may use as supplements to their courses.

The library has created a distance learning website for students containing several resources, including an  online library orientation, videos and tutorials, and  Ask-a-Librariana service allowing students to speak with a librarian via online chat, email or text message.  

In addition, the work of several college committees is focused on distance learning students. For example, the Distance Learning Sub-Committee of the Student Success Committee has created a range of documents to assist faculty which are posted on the Distance Learning Website. Specifically, they created an online course Protocols, an Online Student Checklist, and a Faculty Expectations Form. They also conduct an Ask Me Online Chat, during which HCC faculty answer questions related to distance learning to ease the transition to online learning and provide tips for success. 

To further ensure that students are ready for online courses, HCC offers Smarter Measure to all students, available through MyHCC (HCC’s LMS). Faculty have the option to require it within their classes. SmarterMeasure is a validated, highly-configurable assessment engine that powers exams measuring non-cognitive as well as cognitive skills, including math and writing. It offers student readiness assessment based on non-cognitive indicators of success. The non-cognitive section quantifies a learner’s level of readiness to study online and/or in a technology- rich environment by measuring non-cognitive variables of Individual Attributes (motivation, procrastination), Learning Styles, Life Factors (time, support resources), Technical Skills and Competency, On-screen Reading Rate and Recall, and Typing Speed & Accuracy.  

3.11.3, Physical Facilities

Facilities and Technology Resources that Serve Distance Learning Programs And Provide Support Services 

HCC’s technology and physical resources provide numerous systems and avenues of access that allow distance learning students to be successful in online classes and programs, and to access the full range of services available to all HCC students. The college’s network is the primary medium for distance and virtual access to all of the college’s resources that support distance learning students and programs. The network and all computer-based services are available 24/7/365, and includes a full off-site backup of all critical systems. The network is protected with the NetID identity verification system, as well as firewalls, virus detection, dual authentication VPNs, and active threat detection. Students, faculty, and employees have access to the network from anywhere Internet access is available, including from mobile devices. The college library, student information system, class registration system, learning management system, and online tutoring system are all available on demand online.  

Telephone support services

Users have 24/7 access to phone-based technical support through HCC’s contract with Blackboard Student Services, Tier 1 technical support with the college’s LMS vendor, and the ability to create an HCC help desk ticket online for any technical issues, 24/7. HCC OIT support personnel are available by phone and by online chat during business hours for all students. HCC’s LMS vendor has extensive support documentation online, which is linked from within the LMS, and the company provides the means for users to connect to a technical support specialist via phone, email, and chat. 

Online academic support

Smarthinking (online tutoring), Ask a Librarian (online library reference assistance), LIB guides (discipline specific research guides), and program registration guides are all available online through the college’s website or through the learning management system.

Many programs and courses use discipline-specific online labs and electronic instructional materials. These are selected by the faculty and supported and integrated where appropriate with HCC systems, primarily the LMS, which provides students access from any location. 

Distance learning students, if they can physically access an HCC campus, are able to take advantage of all academic and student services support systems available to f2f students, such as the Academic Success Centers and discipline-specific labs. 

Student services

Users, distance learning and on-campus, also have access to 24/7 support for student services through the college’s contract with BayCare Life Management which provides professional and confidential counseling services. 

The Distance Learning Coordinator, in the office of Instructional Technology, also works directly with distance learning students to ensure their success by fielding numerous calls and emails. The college’s Distance Learning web page is designed to provide access to all the resources distance learning students might need. This web page was recently updated to provide students that comprehensive resource. 

Distance learning students have access to academic advising and financial aid assistance via the Academic Advising page on the HCC website. Beginning in fall 2016, students will be able to make online advising appointments. Applications for graduation are completed online for all students, including distance learning students. 


Technology-based academic systems are regularly evaluated to ensure they are meeting the needs of the students, faculty, and programs. The college switched to a new LMS in 2015 (Canvas by Instructure) as the result of an extensive evaluation of the college’s needs and the options available. The recent state-wide agreement between the State of Florida and Instructure ensures that the college will have affordable access to an excellent LMS for years to come. Use of SmarThinking is monitored via online usage reports, and students can be allotted additional tutoring hours upon request. 

Electronic course materials are reviewed during each textbook adoption cycle. When allowed by the publisher, students may have direct access to certain electronic publisher materials. 

Evidence that Facilities Adequately Serve the College’s Distance Learning Mission 

Evidence that facilities and technology resources adequately serve the needs of distance learning students is gleaned from several sources, including student surveys, usage statistics from various academic and student support systems, and web page traffic.

Student Satisfaction Surveys: Students are surveyed on a variety of topics. Graduates are surveyed once per year. Results of recent surveys show: 

(From the Graduate Survey Results 2014-2015)

  • 79.7% of students were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their distance learning courses.
  • 83% of students were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with library services.
  • 90% of students were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the online registration process.

(From the Student Satisfaction Survey Fall 2015)

  • 52.2% of HCC students took at least one distance learning class at the college.
  • 92.4% of students rated technical support for distance learning classes “very satisfied” or “satisfied”
  • 89.1% of students who took a distance learning class would take another.
  • 83.7% of students were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the HCC Online Support Center.
  • 22.4% of students used an online library.

Complete survey results can be viewed at http://www.hccfl.edu/gwsc/spa-ir-mis/ir/surveys.aspx .

SmarThinking: Pearson provides periodic update regarding usage of SmarThinking, by calendar year. For the most recent calendar year, 2015, students participated in 7137 discrete sessions, totaling 4776 hours of usage. See HCC SmarThinking Usage for details. A dashboard of recent usage is available on demand online. An example is included in the HCC Smarthinking dashboard. The dashboard consistently shows that approximately half of all SmarThinking usage occurs during hours when HCC is closed, demonstrating the utility and acceptance of the online tutoring service. 

Canvas usage: HCC’s learning management system, referred to as MyHCC, is the primary instructional conduit for distance learning courses, although it is also used for hybrid and on-campus classes. Canvas cannot distinguish between teaching modalities, but the attached documentation (Canvas usage statistics) shows very strong usage of Canvas in only its second semester of use at HCC.

Distance Learning website: HCC’s distance learning web pages are a primary portal for most services required by distance learning students and are heavily used. “Hits” (page view statistics) from off campus for the distance learning pages total over 11,000 for the period of October 2015 through May 2016. (Because these pages are on the public website, they are also visited by prospective distance learning students). See HCC DL page Analytics for details.

Canvas Tier 1 Support: Canvas provides all primary technical support for all users. While neither Canvas nor HCC can distinguish calls from DL students from the general population, customer satisfaction rates for the time period October 2015 – April 2016 ranged from 93-96%. 

Ask a Librarian is a service staffed by librarians that allows students to access an HCC librarian by email, chat, and text. Statistics are available by academic year from 2009 through 2014. This service would be used primarily by students who cannot come to an HCC library in person, and would therefore largely serve distance learning students. See AAL usage for actual statistics. 

4.5, Student Complaints

Distance learning students can submit a grievance through two formal avenues: 1) the Student Grievance Procedure (Non-Academic) and 2) the Student Academic Grievance Procedure. These may be filed via email and students may have the matter resolves remotely via the phone, email, or skype. All students have access to skype via MSOffice360 upon registration. Academic grievances are addressed by Academic Affairs Deans on the affected campus as well as logged and maintained for the record.  Similarly, non-academic grievances are handled by the Deans of Student Services and logged and maintained for the record.  Recording of student complaints is a decentralized process whereby each campus president maintains a log of their campuses academic and non-academic grievances and provides them to the Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management upon request.

In addition to the formal grievance procedures, any written complaint, whether submitted as an email or in some other written form, will be accepted and acted upon as long as it contains the student’s name, contact information and a general description of the grievance.  The resolution of grievances can be conducted with students in person, through phone or online via email.  Complaints received through the College’s Call Center are escalated to College personnel for resolution electronically.  Resolution of complaints through this system can be conducted electronically or in person based on the student’s method of interaction with the College.  Additionally, students use President@hccfl.edu to elevate complaints both academic and non-academic.  These informal complaints are distributed to the proper department for response and assistance.

4.6, Recruitment Materials

Hillsborough Community College provides accurate information regarding our practices and policies in all recruitment materials available on the College’s website, social media channels, and printed materials.

The College’s Marketing and Public Relations Department (MPRD) is responsible for the development of all district-wide recruitment collateral.All major recruitment publications can be found on the College’s website to ensure access for online students.They include: the HCC View Book, HCC Find Your Fit Career Pathways and the College Catalog, HCC Financial Aid View Book and program-specific brochures on an annual basis.  

The MPRD’s process facilitates a thorough review of all content to ensure both its accuracy as well as compliance with the College’s visual identity standards. Through this process, the MPRD develops content and circulates draft materials through the appropriate divisional chain of authority for review as well as the District Vice President with responsibility over the area for review and approval. The MPRD also maintains and monitors the college’s official social media channels including Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr on a daily basis to ensure accuracy. 

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION, Institutional Effectiveness 

Focused Report response,, Institutional Effectiveness/Educational Programs

3.4.6, Practices for Awarding Credit 

Florida DOE Rule 6A-10.033

Florida Statute 1007.24

Florida SCNS Handbook

Academic Policies Operation Manual

Academic Affairs Handbook

Course Intended Outcomes forms website

ENT 1102 Example

Distance Learning or Hybrid Implementation Plan

Distance Learning Operations Manual

Distance Learning database tutorial

Distance Learning or Hybrid Implementation Plan

3.4.9, Academic Support Services 

National Repository of Online Courses (NROC)


Faculty in-course technology training

Cengage Textbook for English

DL Library Website

Online library orientation


Student Distance Learning Website

Online course Protocols

Faculty Expectations Form

Ask Me Online Chat

Online Student Checklist

Smarter Measure

3.11.3, Physical Facilities 

Blackboard Student Services

LMS Support Documentation


Ask a Librarian

LIB guides

Academic Success Centers

BayCare Life Management

Distance Learning web page

Academic Advising web page

Graduation Applications

HCC SmarThinking Usage

HCC Smarthinking dashboard

Canvas usage statistics

HCC DL page Analytics

AAL usage

4.5, Student Complaints 

Student Grievance Procedure (Non-Academic)

Student Academic Grievance Procedure

Student Complaint Log


Student Complaint Log District Academic Affairs

Student Complaint Log Brandon Campus

Student Complaint Log Dale Mabry Campus

Student Complaint Log Plant City Campus

Student Complaint Log SouthShore Campus

Student Complaint Log Ybor City Campus

4.6, Recruitment Materials 


HCC View Book

HCC Financial Aid View Book

HCC Career Pathways

Program Brochures:

Hospitality Management Program Brochure

Web Pages:

HCC Home Page

Apply Now Page

Register Now Page

Social Media:



You Tube




For a 3 credit-hour lecture class meeting 3 hours per week (48 hours of                                        

Instruction), you can be dropped after 6 hours of absence. The 3 hours

 Includes accumulated minutes for arriving late to class and leaving class early. You are expected to attend all lecture classes and labs regularly.  Student success in college is largely dependent on attending class, and it is imperative that you make an effort to attend every class.  There is no such thing as an excused absence. Circumstances may arise such as sickness, family issues, childcare issues, hospitalization, and unavoidable transportation problems. If unable to attend class, students will need to show excusable documentation.  In that light, students are allowed to miss no more than 12.5% (4 days) of the total class sessions. Students who miss more than 12.5% (4 days) of class time may be administratively dropped from this course. Three tardiness accounts for 1 absence. Leaving class early accounts for an absence. It is your responsibility to keep informed of class assignments, online activities, and other matters that affect your participation in this course and on this college campus.


Your grade is reflective of your efforts, work ethics, performance, and achievements.   Late work is unacceptable; however if you have a true emergency, it is best to contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss the issue.   Late work may be accepted at the professor’s discretion with proper documentation.  Students are held accountable for their own learning.


It is a violation of HCC policy for an employee, agent, or student of the College to engage in sexual harassment as defined in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. Any student who has a complaint concerning this policy has the opportunity to seek resolution of such a complaint in accordance with procedures set forth in the Student Handbook.  Report any complaints immediately to College Administration or call the EEO/ER Office in Human Resources at 713-718-8606.


Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the Disability Support Services Office (DSSO) of their respective college at the beginning of each semester. Faculty is authorized to provide only the accommodation(s) requested by the DSSO. For information and services at HCCS Northwest Campus, contact Mahnaz Kolaini, ADA Counselor, [email protected]

Distance Education and/or Continuing Education Policies


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