Distance Learning and Alternative Education
Online and Hybrid Courses
Distance learning is an educational process where the majority of the instruction occurs when students and faculty are not in the same place. Online and hybrid classes offer ACC students a convenient way to earn college credit. Fully online programs and courses are offered at ACC, as are hybrid courses (where there is at least one mandatory on-campus component such as lab work or class meeting) and distance learning courses that require exams to be taken in the campus Testing Center.
Course content and transferability in distance learning classes are identical to classes offered on campus, giving students more scheduling options and a wider selection of classes to meet their needs.
For more information on fully online programs and courses, visit online.austincc.edu.
Procedures for Protecting Student Privacy in Distance Education Courses and Programs
Austin Community College (ACC) protects the privacy of all students including distance learning students through strict adherence to the rules of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (FERPA). The official FERPA statement is available for student and public view through the ACC FERPA website, www.austincc.edu/ferpa, and in the ACC College Catalog and Student Handbook, www.austincc.edu/catalog.
ACC is committed to protecting student privacy for students enrolled in all courses and programs regardless of the mode of instruction (on-line, hybrid, classroom). All of the college policies regarding student privacy and information security apply to distance education courses and programs. All ACC students and employees to include Faculty teaching distance education courses and programs are expected to uphold these polices and follow these procedures:
Identity Verification in Distance Education Courses and Programs
- Required to Obtain ACC Student ID In-Person
All ACC students, including those involved in distance education, are issued ACC IDs as proof of identity. All students to include distance learning students must obtain their ACC student ID in person at any of ACC’s campuses Admissions and Records Office.
- Student Assigned a Unique Identified – ACCeID
ACC assigns students a unique identifier called ACCeIDs. The ACCeID is a password management system that unifies the usernames and passwords for many ACC applications. Through this system students are also required to remember and provide responses to previously saved questions in case they need to reset their login credentials. The password management system also requires periodic password changes to further reduce the risk of sensitive information being obtained and used outside its intended purpose within the College.
- Required Use of Secure Login and Password – With ACCeID Unique Identifier
To ensure that a student who registers for a distance education course is the same student who participates in and completes the course, ACC requires the use of secure login and password. The ACCeID and password is required to access ACC’s online learning environment housed within Blackboard, ACC’s learning management system.
Both students and faculty are responsible for maintaining the security of their secure-portal login credentials (user name (ACCeID and passwords).
- Activate ACCeID –Agree to College’s Information Security and Acceptable Use Policy
The first time a student login to activate their ACCeID the student must read and agree to the terms of the College’s Information Security and Acceptable Use Policy. This policy states that:
“Each individual provided with a system account shall maintain securely and never disclose his/her account password or credentials or knowingly permit another individual to access ACC information systems via his/her account, accept in accordance with a lawful investigation.”
- Periodic Password Changes
The ACCedID password management system also requires periodic password changes to further reduce the risk of sensitive information being obtained and used outside its intended purpose within the College. The password management system is set to reset the password every 90 days.
Blackboard – Learning Management System – Online Course Delivery
- Access Blackboard – ACCedID Secure Username and Password
Blackboard is the learning management system used by ACC for online course delivery. Students and Faculty access Blackboard by using their ACCeID secure username and password combination created and assigned by ACC.
- All parties accept responsibility for the security of their personal passwords
- Blackboard learning management system requires all passwords to be updated every 90 days.
- Student information is separated from others’ within Blackboard and from outside intruders.
- Faculty information is protected from student views within Blackboard and from outside intruders.
- Professional Use Expectations for College Information Systems
The Blackboard login page is used by both students and faculty. Upon login to Blackboard the following statement appears regarding the expectations and policies that users must abide:
“Professional Use Expectations for College Information Systems: Users are expected to comply with ACC’s Administrative Rule on the Use of College Information Systems, and to be familiar with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Proceeding to use college information systems indicates your awareness of and commitment to comply with the above-referenced guidelines. If you are unsure of these guidelines or disagree with them, you are expected to exit now and consult with your supervisor or advisor.”
- Faculty Assignment to Courses in Blackboard
All faculty members are assigned a shell in Blackboard for each class they teach. The employee ID is assigned to the courses assigned the faculty member. Each student registered in a class will be tied to the course roster within the instructor’s course and identified to both the instructor and Blackboard by their individual student ID.
- ACC Testing Center – Required to Present Student ID
ACC also authenticates and verifies the identity of students involved in distance education through the use of examination proctoring at the ACC Testing Center or other approved remote testing centers by requiring students to present a Student ID. Students complete exams under the scrutiny of testing center personnel.
- ProctorU web-based – Verify Student Identity
Students may also elect to use the services of ProctorU, a web-based examination proctoring service. This is a fee-based online live-proctoring service. In these instances, ProctorU verifies student identity.
Confidential Information Faculty Responsibility
Teach distance education courses using Blackboard, the college’s approved learning management system, in order to ensure security of student work and grades.
- Use the college’s secure student information systems site to report student grades.
- Use Blackboard or the college’s email system for all official, confidential communication such as providing feedback on student work, releasing grade information to students, etc.
- Keep student work, scores or grades confidential. Students in the course should not have access to other students’ work or grades.
- Keep your Blackboard or email account information secure. Do not share your login information with anyone, give anyone unauthorized access to the Blackboard course or assign a student the role of instructor or graduate assistant in Blackboard.
- Follow the college’s guidelines and FERPA guidelines for sharing student educational record information with other faculty, staff, parents, or others outside the college.
- Keep your Blackboard or email account information secure. Do not share your login information with anyone.
- Do not give anyone unauthorized access to the Blackboard course.
- Keep his/her login and password confidential. Password reset is completed through a security question protocol.
Only work submitted to open forums, like discussion boards, can be accessed by other students; other assignments, grades and correspondence are not viewable by other students.
Records Management Program
The records management administrative rule establishes rules for process for the creation, distribution, organization, maintenance, use, and disposition of college records. Access to student financial records is restricted and limited to authorized users and are only released with the student’s permission, which is given through the student’s designation within the secure Online Services portal. ACC discloses information from a student education record only with written consent of the student by completing the Student Proxy Authorization form.
To grant permission for the ACC cashier office to discuss the student’s account information with others, the student must complete a Cashier Office Proxy Authorization form . The original completed form must be presented to the Cashier Office at time of service.
The Information Portal System – TIPS
The Information Portal System is the data reporting system of ACC. Data in TIPS comes from a variety of sources, including student information systems. Users are required to review the FERPA guidelines and must agree to keep student level data confidential.