Regular and Substantive Contact Hours

Title 5 California Code of Regulations: Section 55204. Instructor Contact

In accordance with Section 55202 and any locally established requirements applicable to all courses, district governing boards shall ensure that:

  • Any portion of a course conducted through distance education includes regular effective contact between instructor and students, through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, correspondence, voice mail, e-mail, or other activities. Regular effective contact is an academic and professional matter pursuant to sections 53200 et seq.
  • Any portion of a course provided through distance education is conducted consistent with guidelines issued by the Chancellor pursuant to section 409 of the Procedures and Standing Orders of the Board of Governors.

Guidelines for Saddleback College Faculty

Online education courses are considered the “virtual equivalent” of traditional on-site courses.  Therefore, the frequency of the contact must be at least the same as would be established in a traditional classroom.  In accordance with the Administrative Regulation 6112 (SOCCCD), instructors shall incorporate the following practices of regular and substantive contact into their online courses: regular announcements, established expectations, faculty initiated interactions with students, student to student interactions,  timely feedback on student work, content material delivery via online lectures, videos, publisher-provided materials, and websites, notification to students of faculty unavailability and offline time, face-to-face forms of activities, workshops, and study sessions, and office hours.


Course Quality: Types of Regular and Substantive Contact Hours

Instructor – Student Interaction

Student – Student Interaction

Examples of Content Interaction

  • Course Announcements
  • Messaging via Blackboard
  • College emails
  • Personalized feedback
  • Discussion boards
  • Chats/IM
  • Videoconferencing/Skype
  • Phone/voicemail
  • Messaging via Blackboard
  • College emails
  • Discussion boards
  • Chats/IM
  • Collaborative projects: group blogs, wikis


  • Modules on Blackboard
  • Lectures (recorded/streaming)
  • Podcasts/Webinars/screencasts
  • Videoconferencing/CCC Confer
  • Discussion boards


How to Implement Regular and Substantive Contact Hours

The following are examples of how to implement regular effective contact:

Initiated Interactions


  • Include means for all types of interaction in the course design.
  • Utilize appropriate media for accessibility.
  • Design daily or weekly assignments and projects that promote collaboration among students.
  • Model course netiquette at the beginning of the semester with instructor-guided introductions.
  • Pose questions in the discussion boards which encourage various types of interaction and critical thinking skills among all course participants.
  • Monitor content activity to ensure that students participate fully and discussions remain on topic.
  • Create a specific forum for questions regarding course assignments.
  • Ask students for feedback about the course on a regular basis and revise content as needed.
Frequency & Timeliness of Interactions
  • Establish guidelines for frequency of contact that are the same as in the face-to-face classroom.
  • Make known response time for student questions/inquiries and assignment feedback (e.g. 1-2 business days).
  • Maintain an active daily presence, particularly during the beginning weeks of a course.
  • Give frequent and substantive feedback throughout the course.
Expectations for Interactions
  • Specify course policy regarding frequency and timeliness of all contact initiated by the instructor in the syllabus.
  • Explain course policy regarding student-initiated contact (where to post questions, assignments, etc.) in the syllabus.
  • Outline and explain netiquette in initial course documents.
  • Clarify important dates, such as assignment and assessment deadlines not only in the beginning but also throughout the course.
Absences from Interactions
  • Inform students immediately of course designee should an illness, family emergency or other unexpected event prevent continuing regular effective contact for a prolonged period of time.
  • Let students know when instructor-initiated regular effective contact will continue.