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SPOT: Frequently Asked Questions

This is a guest post from Assistant Distance Learning Coordinator and SPOT Facilitator, Catherine McKee.

This post is for the many professors currently working to finish SPOT, otherwise known as Skills and Pedagogy for Online Teaching, the certification required to teach online courses beginning in Fall 2021. FOMAR is no longer sufficient to continue teaching online starting in Fall.Last year, and in March 2021, the Distance Learning team collected survey responses about the SPOT experience. Based on those responses we put together this list of useful information for those currently undertaking SPOT certification. If you want more basic information about getting started with SPOT, visit the Distance Learning SPOT page on the Mt. SAC website.


When does the SPOT course begin? How do I get started?

SPOT is an ongoing program, so you can start and finish whenever you’d like. You can sign up for SPOT, start working on SPOT, and submit your SPOT course any time. But courses submitted in July or August will likely not earn certification in time to teach online in Fall 2021. Sign up in POD and make sure you fill out the form within the sign-up to notify the SPOT team so they set up your own SPOT shell and add you to the SPOT 2.0 course.

I started SPOT a long time ago, and I’m just returning to it. Do I start all over again?

Nope, you do not need to start over by signing up again through POD. You should still have access to both the SPOT 2.0 course (in which you are a student) and your own SPOT course (where you complete your work for SPOT certification). If you do not see these courses, make sure you check under Courses > All courses from the Canvas menu. (How to Favorite and Unfavorite Canvas Courses) You may have hidden these courses at some point. You can pick up where you left off. The SPOT rubric has changed over time but you can use the one you started with, or you can switch to the new one. It’s up to you.

I signed up for SPOT, and I have watched the orientation video, but I have no idea what to do next. Can you help me?

Sure. My advice would be:

  • Read the SPOT 2.0 Home page
  • Read the information on the page with the video (“All About SPOT – Start here!”)
  • Read the instructional email you received from us, which refers you the discussion called “SPOT Welcome Letter.” After you read this page, click the blue “Take me to the SPOT course” at the bottom of the letter.”

Move through the SPOT 2.0 course page by page, clicking the “Next” button at the bottom of each page to move on. The SPOT 2.0 course takes you through the process of building your own online course. A SPOT shell course was created and provided to you when you enrolled. It is named SPOTXXX where XXX is a 3- or 4-digit number. It is a separate course shell from the SPOT 2.0 course that contains the lessons. This SPOT### course is where you do your work and it is the course you submit for review. It will be reviewed based on the SPOT rubric. The rubric is available in multiple places throughout SPOT 2.0 and in this previous blog post about the  SPOT Precheck.


How long will it take me to build my SPOT course for review?

It depends. Remember that SPOT does not teach Canvas and assumes you have basic Canvas competency. If you don’t, see below for some suggestions about how to get some training, which will save you time and frustration as you move through SPOT. Also, if you have been teaching in Canvas you can copy an existing Canvas course into your SPOT course, and then modify it according to the SPOT 2.0 instructions and rubric, as long as it’s your course. You may not copy another faculty member’s course into your SPOT course. Also, we only require four content modules in your SPOT course, plus your orientation/introduction modules, so you are not building an entire course for our review.

Can I earn SPOT certification/will my SPOT course be reviewed in time to earn SPOT certification by August 2021?

The SPOT submission deadline for Fall 2021 certification is June 1, and we encourage you to submit your course as far in advance of June 1 as possible. Remember, SPOT course submission is not certification. Your SPOT course must pass review before you are SPOT-certified.

What can help me to get my course through SPOT?

You can help ease your course through the process by using the SPOT Pre-check Rubric along with the instructions and details in the SPOT 2.0 course, and by submitting your course early, way before June 1 if you hope to earn certification for Fall 2021. The earlier you submit (and the more closely your course adheres to the SPOT rubric), the more likely you are to earn certification for fall. Finally, know that most courses have at least one round of minor corrections to pass SPOT, sometimes more. Paying attention to messages from your SPOT reviewer and returning any changes in a timely manner will speed your certification process.


I’m certified at another college, or I completed @ONE’s certification. Can I submit this in lieu of taking SPOT at Mt. SAC?

Mt. SAC does accept certain facilitated certifications offered by @ONE (see below) but does not accept certifications offered by other colleges, even when those are said to be based on @ONE materials. However, we have heard how this would be helpful and Mt. SAC is evaluating certifications offered by other colleges to see if they are equivalent to SPOT and can qualify in place of SPOT completion. We don’t know if/when these certifications might be accepted. Therefore you should not plan on using another college’s certification to satisfy Mt. SAC’s SPOT requirement for Fall 2021. The truth is, if you have taken another course and learned the principles covered in SPOT, you should be able to get through much of SPOT and easily prepare many of the course materials requested to earn SPOT certification.

Accepted @ONE Certifications

I worked on SPOT in a past semester. Can I use my past SPOT course shell? Will my work still be there or does it conclude at the end of a semester?

It is! We don’t delete SPOT courses until after you earn certification. All of your course content should still be there. SPOT courses do not conclude. They stay active for as long as you are working on your SPOT certification.

Can I submit my counseling course for SPOT approval?


Can I submit one course to qualify for SPOT, or do I need to create a separate Canvas shell for each course I want to teach online in order to become SPOT-certified?

SPOT certification is not course specific. Once you’ve earned SPOT certification you can teach any course which has gone through the Distance Learning Course Amendment Form process and been fully approved (and for which you meet minimum qualifications, etc.).

Can I submit a course that has been taught online in a synchronous format? I am working on a version that is fully asynchronous. Is that okay?

Yes! Absolutely. SPOT does not certify courses that rely completely on synchronous content delivery. However, you can submit a course with synchronous elements for SPOT certification. It must also include enough asynchronous content delivery for the course to stand on its own without the synchronous components. This is in part related to the fact that no online courses were synchronous at Mt. SAC prior to the pandemic and the California Virtual Campus’ Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI) does not yet award a quality reviewed badge to synchronous courses.


I submitted my SPOT course on March 1 and it’s being reviewed. When will I receive the result?

If you submitted March 1 your course is in the review process now and you should receive feedback within a week or so. Update: as of April 26, 2021, courses submitted through April 9 are now being reviewed.

I have submitted my course, and I hope it has been reviewed. Maybe some way of feedback that the review is in progress would be nice.

We try to give a rough timeline for reviews when the course is submitted, and encourage faculty to reach out by a certain date if they haven’t heard anything. If you ever have questions about the status of your review, please contact Catherine McKee (

Can I get a stipend for earning SPOT certification?

Maybe. First, remember that SPOT submission is not SPOT certification. Your reviewer is very likely to have some revisions for you to complete before your course is certified. Once your reviewer notifies you that you’ve earned your certification, you can contact Emily Woolery ( with any stipend questions.


I spent way more than 16 hours getting through SPOT.

We know. We have collected information and put together a proposal asking that additional PGI hours be awarded to faculty who earn SPOT certification. Unfortunately we don’t get to unilaterally make this change. It must be approved by at least one other committee.

How is SPOT different from FOMAR?

FOMAR (Fully Online by Mutual Agreement Readiness) was basic Canvas training developed to help faculty transition their face-to-face courses to temporary remote instruction on short notice in March 2020. It was four hours of training including Canvas Basics. SPOT is a competency-based training program in which you build a four content module course based on CVC-OEI (California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative) standards incorporated into the SPOT rubric. You build the course according to those standards and submit it, with your completed rubric, to the review team for review. You’ll receive detailed feedback on your course along with a possible list of revisions before you earn certification.

I would really like SPOT to provide me with a Deaf Expert or address an accessibility need that I have related to completing the course.

Please contact Catherine McKee ( to set this up. We are happy to work with you and our DHH/ACCESS departments to provide the appropriate accommodations to ensure you are supported.

Why don’t you just hire more people to review SPOT so you can approve more courses before fall?

Great question. That was part of our reasoning in collecting survey responses. We did ask for additional reviewers and have 5 reviewers who were funded for summer. We will continue to use this data to assess the need for more resources in fall and work to get those needs met. In the meantime, pay attention to the dates we have listed for the fall deadline, follow the rubric to make it less likely that your course will be returned for major revisions, and be prompt in responding to any follow-up from the SPOT review team to help us stay on track and process as many courses as we can.

What if I have questions about how to use Canvas?

SPOT does not teach Canvas. If you have questions about how to use the technology to achieve your goals, you can use these resources for help:

POD Connect Transcript button
    • Refer to FCLT’s handy chart for getting the fastest answers to your questions
    • Use the Help button in Canvas (quick access to guides, videos, & 24/7 phone and chat support)
    • Get one-on-one help from Faculty Facilitators (
    • Check out the Canvas Faculty Center (especially good for tools integrated into Canvas)
    • Visit the Faculty Accessibility Center (how to implement accessibility in your course)
    • Check the POD calendar for Office Hours: SPOT, Faculty Facilitators (Fridays), and FCLT Instructional Design (Thursdays)

Do you have another question about completing SPOT that was not addressed here? Did you already complete SPOT and have some tips for those currently completing? Maybe you just have a suggestion for a future blog post from the Distance Learning Coordinators or the instructional design team. Feel free to share in the comments below!

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