Managing the Online Handbook

Historically, the Online Handbook has been managed by the Organizational Learning Strategist in the OPR department. This article provides an overview of documents, processes, and guidelines associated with that role. 

This document expands on information found in Online Handbook Governance. Read that article to gain an understanding of the handbook as a whole and the different organizations associated with it.

Critical Documents

  • Word Doc (Online Handbook PUBLISHED): This is the "master" copy of the online handbook, and is used as our backup in case something were to happen with the website version (which is our public-facing version). This version is generally not shared and is stored in SharePoint. We maintain the Word version for ease of drafting and to have a master copy that is more locked-down from editing than the online version.
  • Website: This is the public-facing iteration of the handbook. The website is edited from the Ingeniux web builder tool, and individuals must be members of the CCD Web Administrator role to access or edit the code.
  • Online Handbook Change Log: This is a public-facing record of changes made to the Online Handbook and is linked at the bottom of the Online Handbook page (left side, scroll down). This page is also edited from Ingeniux and accessed through the CCD Web Administrator role.

Discrepancies between documents

When discrepancies arise between iterations, content will be aligned with the Word Doc (Online Handbook PUBLISHED) version. Access to this version is more tightly restricted than to the website, so it is generally considered the most up-to-date and approved iteration.

Publication

All content in the Online Handbook must be reviewed by stakeholders, edited by the organizational learning strategist, and approved by the ODC before publication. Content is considered published when it has been moved to the website and the (PUBLISHED) document.

There are two primary processes for publication, depending on which group (HAT or ODC) acts as the catalyst for the change.

HAT-to-ODC Process
  1. Change is discussed and drafted by HAT team. This may be sponsored by OLC or ODC as assigned to HAT team, or the recommendation may be made by any employee in Online and then submitted to HAT.
  2. Draft is submitted to Organizational Learning Strategist for comprehensive edit (verifies consistency with other sections, completeness, alignment with style guides, etc.) Note: it is recommended that the organizational learning strategist be included in the original drafting process in order to save time.
  3. Draft is submitted by HAT to a sponsoring director, who seeks approval in OLC
  4. Approved content is submitted to ODC for approval by a managing director
  5. Approved content and any changes made by OLC/ODC is returned to the organizational learning strategist for a final copy edit (spelling, grammar, formatting, style guide, etc.)
  6. Approved and edited content is published. This means it has been moved from the drafting document to the published word document and then added to the website. We usually do these updates first using Track Changes on the Word doc, which is sent to the student so they can easily see what is different. Once the changes are published to the site, approve the tracked changes on the Word Doc and leave a comment with the date of the update.
  7. Appropriate announcement of changes is made (see "communicating changes" below)
Direct-from-ODC Process

Occasionally, changes to the handbook will come directly from ODC (having been either written there or submitted and approved independently of HAT). Because these changes are sometimes written by individuals without extensive knowledge of the rest of the handbook, it is important to do a comprehensive edit before publication.

  1. Do a comprehensive edit of the new change or section. Consider how well it fits with the handbook's existing style and established structure. Consider its intended audience and appropriate organization for the information. Most importantly, consider how this new content will affect existing content--do other sections need to be updated? Does it conflict with any content in the handbook?
  2. Review recommendations with the sponsoring individual. Usually, you'll be contacted by a specific person who tells you the new change is ready to be published. After you edit the changes, review them with the individual to seek approval. 
  3. Complete a copy edit. Make sure the new section fits with our established style guide.
  4. Send final version to author for approval. Significant changes may need to go back to OLC/ODC.
  5. Update the Master copy of the handbook. This is the Microsoft Word document stored in SharePoint. We usually do these updates using Track Changes to make it easier for the website to be updated.
  6. Update the website. Send the Master copy with tracked changes (as a SharePoint link, not an attached file) to the student on Joshua McKinney's team assigned to our projects, and ask them make the changes on the website. Review these changes before publishing to live, as it is easy to make mistakes when updating code. Once the changes are published to the live site, approve the tracked changes on the Word Doc and leave a comment with the date of the update.
  7. Announce the changes to appropriate audiences (see "communicating changes" below).

Sections that come to you "ready for publication" frequently need significant comprehensive editing before they can actually be published to the handbook, even if they have already been approved by OLC or ODC.  Remember that many people have worked hard on this content and feel passionately about the changes, so use tact when making comprehensive recommendations. That being said, your primary role in this process is to advocate for the reader and protect the integrity, purpose, and usefulness of the handbook; as such, we recommend having revision meetings in-person, rather than just sending a tracked-changes document to the author.

Communicating Changes

All changes to the online handbook are announced to Online internal audiences, ODC, Course Councils, and any other groups affected by the changes. Once a change has been published on the website and recorded in the Online Handbook Change Log, follow this process:

  1. Make an email announcement of the changes (including links to the changed content) to the following groups: managing directors & directors in Online, online associate deans, HAT committee members. Ask these individuals to forward the announcement to those in their teams or departments who may be affected (see sample email below).
  2. Include a summary of the changes in the Course Council NewsletterInclude links to the changes. You can see examples of this in previous versions of the newsletter.
Sample email announcement:

Hi Everyone,

We are pleased to announce the following updates to the Online Handbook:

  • Online Course Update Policy: The “assumed approval” policy is no longer in place (see 6.3.3, 6.3.4), the required approvals chart has been slightly adjusted (an updated PDF can be downloaded through the link at the bottom of 6.4), and there were slight wording adjustments to 6.2.1. These changes are already in effect on the Course Support team.
  • Online Instructor Probation and Termination: Section 4.1, “Online Instructors,” has a new sub-section called “Probation and Termination” (4.1.3).
  • Department Chair Responsibilities: Responsibility number 8 was adjusted to align with the new Probation and Termination section.

For a detailed breakdown of these updates, refer to the first two entries in the Online Handbook Change Log.

Please notify your team members who may be affected by these changes—particularly those who use the Required Approvals Chart. We plan to announce these updates to department chairs, course leads, and OCRs through a Course Council Newsletter in the beginning of November.

Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you,

Versioning

Changes and updates to the handbook will be reflected through a numerical versioning system. 

Significant changes, such as section additions, redevelopments, or deletions, require a new version (ex: 2.0). We usually move to a new file in Sharepoint for the "Master" Word doc with these changes.

Smaller changes, such as minor alterations to existing sections, will be reflected as a subset of the current version (ex: 2.1). These changes are usually tracked with comments left on the "Master" Word doc.

Very minor changes, such as spelling/grammar or very minor changes that do not alter the meaning or use of the content, do not require any versioning updates. Communicating these changes is optional.


About this article

Responsible: Organizational Learning Strategist
Accountable: Chair of Online Development Council (ODC)
Consulted: N/A
Informed: HAT

Sharing: Restricted (OPR)

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