Recording Distance Learning Contact and Proxy HoursSusan Wetenkamp-Brandt, Senior Manager for Educational Technology & Digital Literacy Tom Cytron-Hysom, Consultant
The migration of ABE classes online has created many challenges in terms of counting and recording proxy hours. In coordination with MDE staff, the DL Support team is providing some clarifications.
First, ABE programs are strongly encouraged not to worry unduly over generating contact and proxy hours, as the Contact Hours Working Group is developing a plan that will ensure that all programs receive adequate funding in 2021-22 to continue services during this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Sites shouldn’t worry unduly about “counting hours.” We also recognize there are issues and questions related to counting distance learning hours that need clarification.
The current Distance Learning Policy does not specify the format for platforms/curricula that can be approved for proxy hours. Whether materials are online, on video or on paper is not the relevant question. Instead, the policy requires that the platform/curriculum have instructional content (not just practice) and interaction with a teacher and/or with software that provides feedback on student performance and leads towards greater understanding and mastery of learning objectives. So long as a paper-based publisher-created curriculum meets these criteria, it can be approved through the regular DL platform approval process.
The DL Team cannot and should not be approving individual teachers’ lessons each week, as this is not required for in-person classes. However, we have developed a process for approving online teacher-developed “courses.” A course is defined as a series of at least twelve online lessons, totalling at least 20 hours, created by a teacher for their own use, and potentially for the use of other ABE staff/programs. A course is expected to have a syllabus with a set of course objectives and a plan for how course materials move students towards mastery of those objectives. For more information about teacher-created courses, view this Guidance Document.
We do not want teachers to stop providing innovative and high-value instruction simply because it doesn’t fit the definition of a “course” that we have developed. Instructional quality should be key. But, we need a way to award reasonable proxy hours in a fair and consistent way across the state. The approval process for courses, which may be used by programs statewide, is one way we are approaching this.
The MN ABE distance learning team and the MDE ABE office are also currently exploring a process for awarding proxy hours for teacher-verified distance learning materials that do not fit the “course” definition. As part of this process, a training would be required to count proxy hours for distance instruction outside of an approved DL platform or approved teacher-created courses. This training would include information about the elements that help determine instructional quality and guidance on how to determine the number of proxy hours appropriate to different types of content. This training would be required before a program could begin counting teacher-verified hours that are not in approved courses. We will share updates on this possible new model for awarding proxy hours later this summer.
To clarify, at present, hours can be recorded for work done on approved DL platforms, approved teacher-created courses, and “live” (synchronous) instruction.
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