1791 Delegates is a private charity named after the Bill of Rights was ratified. Our delegation of First Amendment and human rights educators designed, built, and manages ReligionAndPublicLife.org. This social learning community provides on-demand and live educational experiences to advance learners’ civic competencies of religious literacy and legal literacy. The following accreditation guide details how 1791 Delegates’ partner schools may award academic credit to students who completed what the faculty at 1791 Delegates taught them on ReligionAndPublicLife.org.
1. Defining Distance Education
1791 Delegates applies the Enriched Virtual Model to conduct its online courses, as defined by the Clayton Christensen Institute. The Enriched Virtual Model is defined as “a course in which students participate in required face-to-face learning sessions with their instructor of record and then are free to complete their remaining coursework remotely from the face-to-face teacher. Online learning is the backbone of student learning when the students are located remotely. The same person generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher. In Enriched Virtual Models, students seldom meet face to face with their teachers every weekday. This model differs from a fully online course because face-to-face learning sessions are more than optional office hours or social events — they are required.”
2. Defining Credit Hours
1791 Delegates applies the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 34, Part 600.2) to legally define a credit hour as follows: “… a credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than: (1) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester [totaling 45 hours] or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in section (1) of this definition for other academic activities [see Capstone Project] as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.”
3. Defining Contact Hours *
ReligionAndPublicLife.org exceeds the federal “credit hour” definition to require instructors to provide a minimum of 15 hours of “contact hours”
- * Live Hours: The WISE CAP model guarantees 25 hours of live “direct faculty instruction” (see asterisks in table). For instance, instructors engage students directly through live person-to-person interactions through the following online activities. Students engage their instructor and peers in the online discussion forum. The students amend their essays based on the instructor’s personalized feedback. The instructor also conducts a two-hour live videoconference for every unit. The purpose is to facilitate a Socratic Seminar whereby instructors assess students’ verbal mastery of the unit material. Finally, during the Capstone Project, instructors provide advisement sessions to help students craft a prospectus before they go into the community to implement their project (e.g, a workshop, event, program, interviews, research). The experience concludes with live videoconference where students offer the instructor a verbal presentation of their capstone project.
- ^ On-Demand Hours: Moving at their own pace, students earn 15 contact-hours by engaging with on-demand resources: videos, interactives, podcasts, and digital downloads (e.g., handouts, lecture notes, reports, slides, papers, essays). In addition, instructors engage student with an additional 10 hours of pre-recorded video and audio lectures. Students are required to login to the platform and watch on-demand video lectures and listen to on-demand audio lectures. The student may not proceed to the next step without verifying that the multimedia was played and demonstrating their retention of the content.
- ^^ Homework: Out-of-class homework and independent study. The work is verified by teaching fellow by grading essays and evaluating the progress made with each revision. The fieldwork is evaluated by periodic communication with the student who archives their experiences in a journal log.
4. Sample Course Sequence
Total: 45 hours
5. Defining the Capstone Project
The Capstone Project serves as the last course in the certificate program. In this instructor-supervised independent-study, students design, implement, and evaluate a community-based program in which they demonstrate their ability to apply their content knowledge to a community of practice. 1791 Delegates adapted our definition of a capstone project based on the Glossary of Education Reform. A capstone project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience. A capstone project may take a wide variety of forms, such as an investigative project that culminates in a final product, presentation, or performance. For example, students select a topic, profession, or social problem based on the broad theme of religion and public life. They are required to conduct research on the subject, maintain a portfolio of findings or results, create a final product demonstrating student learning acquisition or conclusions. The capstone may take the form of a research paper with interviews, a multimedia presentation, or a community workshop. During a live videoconference, the student presents their work to the instructor and their peers. Capstone projects encourage students to think critically and solve challenging problems. The purpose is to develop professional skills such as oral communication, public speaking, research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, or goal setting. Faculty will give special attention to skills that prepare students to effectively serve their community as religiously literate and legally literate leaders. In most cases, the projects are also interdisciplinary, in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across a wide array of subject areas or domains of knowledge.
Exceeding Accreditation Standards
The Contractor Services and Curriculum Licensing Agreement between 1791 Delegates and its partner theological schools will follow the guidelines set forth by the Association of Theological Schools. Specifically:
- Distance Education. 1791 Delegates will follow accreditation guidelines for Distance Education, as defined by the Association of Theological Schools as “a mode of education in which a course is offered without students and instructors being in the same location. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous and employs the use of technology. Distance education courses may consist of exclusively online or other technologically assisted instruction or a blend of intensive classroom and online instruction. In all cases, distance education courses shall ensure regular and substantive interaction of faculty with students.”
- Community of Learning. ATS Standard ES.4.2.3 emphasizes that “distance education programs shall seek to 1791 Delegates personal and spiritual formation, be sensitive to individual learning styles, and recognize diversity within the community of learners. Courses shall require regular and substantive interaction between teachers and learners and among learners to ensure a community of learning.”
- Training and Technical Support. 1791 Delegates’ will offer students “training and one- on-one technical support” to prepare them for the distance education program, as required by the ATS accreditation standard ES.4.2.10.
- ATS Standard Es.4.2.11 requires that the technological support services “include both (1) staff with a sufficiently high level of technical skills to ensure student facility in handling software and the technological aspects of course offerings and (2) the systemic evaluation and upgrading of technological resources and services consistent with the learning goals of theological scholarship.”
- ATS Standard ES4.2.12 requires that “the program shall also ensure that the educational objectives are not hindered by time delays in support services or the lack of capable personnel to ensure the several bridging functions between technology and theological education, between theological curriculum and delivery systems, between teachers and learners, and between the distance education program and the goals of the overall curriculum for the courses and degree program being offered.”
- ATS Standard ES.4.2.16 requires that “in recruitment efforts, services, and publications, institutions shall accurately represent their distance education programs, including but not limited to a description of the technology used and the technological ability, skill, and access needed to participate in the program satisfactorily.”
- The Education Coordinators at the Partner School will provide distance education students with “advisory and administrative support,” as required in ATS standard ES.4.2.18. This includes “program and vocational counseling, financial aid, academic records, and placement. The policies and procedures governing financial assistance shall be published and administered equitably.”
The Contractor Services and Curriculum Licensing Agreement between 1791 Delegates and its partner schools in the northwest will following standards outlined by the accreditation standards of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Specifically, 1791 Delegates will emphasize the following standards, as developed under the C-RAC Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education:
- 1791 Delegates has in place effective procedures through which to ensure that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit;
- 1791 Delegates makes clear in the it’s Student Handbook that these processes protect student privacy;
- 1791 Delegates notifies students at the time of registration and enrollment of any projected additional student charges associated with the verification procedures.
Through its review of the institution’s distance education programs, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities seeks assurance that these programs fulfill the Standards for Accreditation; specifically:
- 1791 Delegates’ distance education programs are consistent with the mission and educational objectives of the partner school;
- 1791 Delegates provides sufficient resources – financial, human, physical, technological – to support its distance education programs;
- The faculty of partner school exercises oversight of distance education programs at 1791 Delegates, ensuring both the rigor of the program and the quality of instruction;
- 1791 Delegates’ courses and programs offered via distance education maintain the same academic standards as those offered on the main campus at the partner school;
- The faculty on-campus at the partner school have a substantive role in the design, implementation, and approval of distance education programs;
- The faculty at the partner school evaluates the educational effectiveness of each distance education program, including assessment of student learning outcomes, student retention, and student and faculty satisfaction, to ensure comparability to campus-based programs;
- Students enrolled in the 1791 Delegates’ distance education programs have adequate access to and make effective use of learning resources, including library, information resources;
- Students enrolled in the 1791 Delegates distance education programs through the partner school adequate access to student services at the partner school, including the partner school’s financial aid, academic advising, course registration, and career and placement counseling;
- Publications and advertising for the 1791 Delegates’ distance education programs are accurate and contain necessary information such as the program’s goals, requirements, academic calendar, and faculty;
- Contractual relationships and arrangements with consortial partners, if any, are clear and guarantee that the institution maintains direct and sole responsibility for the academic quality of all aspects of distance education programs. Where the institution has entered into contractual relationships involving credits and degrees, it has obtained Commission approval for the substantive change.
- Substantive Change. Our partner schools in the SACCOC, in recognizing that 1791 Delegates is not accredited by a USDE-recognized accreditor, will notify the SACSCOC of the desire to make a “substantive change” by submitting written “notification at least six months in advance of implementation of the agreement along with the required documentation below and a final signed copy of this agreement” (SACSCOC “Category Three” requirements, p. 5).
- Prior Approval. Our partner schools and 1791 Delegates will seek “formal, written approval of the agreement by SACSCOC before implementation of the provisions of the agreement” (SACSCOC “Category Three” requirements, p. 5).
- Consortial Relationships / Contractual Agreements. 1791 Delegates’ ensures that “the quality of educational programs and courses offered through consortial relationships or contractual agreements, ensures ongoing compliance with the Principles, and periodically evaluates the consortial relationship and/or agreement against the mission of the institution.” (§3.4.7, SACS 2012 The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement).
- Technology Use. 1791 Delegates will, as outlined by the SACS, ensure that the Institute’s “use of technology enhances student learning and is appropriate for meeting the objectives of its programs and that students have access to and training in the use of technology” (§3.4.12, SACS 2012 The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement).
- Distance and Correspondence Education. 1791 Delegates will document each of the following as outlined in §4.8 of the SACS 2012 The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement).
- §4.8.1. 1791 Delegates will “demonstrate that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit by verifying the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework by using, at the option of the institution, methods such as (a) a secure login and pass code, (b) proctored examinations, or (c) new or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.”
- §4.8.2 1791 Delegates will have “a written procedure for protecting the privacy of students enrolled in distance and correspondence education courses or programs.”
- §4.8.3 1791 Delegates will have “a written procedure distributed at the time of registration or enrollment that notifies students of any projected additional student charges associated with verification of student identity.”