See also Credit Hour and Class Meetings Policy
The purpose of this policy is to address the following concerns:
- Verification of distance education student identity
- Protection of privacy of distance education students
- Accurate reporting of distance education headcount enrollment
- Establish criteria for appropriate educational activities in non-traditional and distance education contexts.
Definition of Non-Traditional:
The non-traditional learning context includes intensive courses, accelerated learning in the cohort model, and other delivery modes that differ from the traditional face-to-face classroom context.
Definition of Distance Education:
Distance Education is defined as a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet, audio conferencing, or video conferencing. Interaction between the instructor and the student is regular and substantive. See Appendix II for guidance on the classification of courses with regard to distance education, and Appendix III for guidance on the classification of programs with regard to distance education.
- Verification of Student Identity: The institution verifies the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework and notifies students of any projected additional charges associated with verification of student identity.
- Protection of Privacy: The institution protects the privacy of students enrolled in distance education courses or programs.
- Institutional Reporting: The institution accurately includes distance education headcount enrollment on its annual Institutional Profile submitted to the Commission.
- The institution applies the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation to all programs of the institution, regardless of mode of delivery. Guidelines for Equivalent Instructional Activities for Non-Traditional and Distance Education Programs are included in Appendix I of this policy. Guidance on formally classifying course instructional mode is provided in Appendix II, and incorporates definitions from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to which EMU reports data annually.
Approved by President’s Cabinet, November 7, 2000
Approved by Academic Cabinet January 29, 2013; reported to President’s Cabinet, February 11, 2013
Updated and approved by Provost's Council, March 2020
The Provost is responsible for this policy.
This policy is to be reviewed every three years or sooner as necessary.
Appendix 1: Guidelines for Equivalent Instructional Activities
A semester hour represents a unit of curricular material that can normally be taught in a minimum of 14 hours of classroom instruction, plus outside preparation of equivalent as determined by faculty. (See Credit Hour and Class Meetings Policy).
Thus, a 3-credit non-traditional or distance education course should have 42 hours of classroom instruction or its equivalent, not including final examination or homework.
Equivalent Instruction Activities should be:
- Directly related to the objectives of the course/program
- Should be measurable for grading purposes
- Should have the direct oversight or supervision of the faculty member teaching the course
- Should in some form be equivalent to an activity conducted in the classroom
Below is a chart defining activities that are considered equivalent in the classroom, non-traditional, and distance learning contexts. All activities have a one-to-one relationship in terms of time.
Non-Traditional or Distance Learning Activity
Equivalent Classroom Activity
Synchronous class with lecture
Read and/or view a faculty presentation
Complete learning packages such as programmed instruction (PI) or independent module (MOD) with questions to answer.
Note: hours designated on individual package
Listen to a podcast or webcast
Research relevant practitioner input on the web. Join online discussion by posting findings and applying to own setting, including analysis and synthesis (see Bloom’s taxonomy).
Note: research hours according to teacher’s estimate of parallel time for a lecture
Guest lecture on a topic relevant to course content with a practitioner focus followed by discussion
Small group work online or in person
Small group work on a project during class time
Case study presentation and discussion online
Case study presentation and discussion
Post online executive summary of paper/project along with a discussion question and lead discussion for a designated period
Look at video (online or other)
Complete online simulation
Independent field trip or interview of a practitioner
Practicum/internship/field experience/ laboratory
Appendix II: SCHEV Classifications of Course Instructional Mode
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) provides guidance to inform EMU's mandatory reporting on course instructional format. That guidance is provided below along with further details as it pertains to the EMU context.
Predominant Face to Face; Synchronous
The instructor and learner share the same physical space more than 50% of the time (understood in terms of Carnegie credit hour equivalency). The instructor and learner interact mostly at the same time.
This covers most courses offered by EMU. Note that to be anything else over half of the content must be delivered in some other way, so what faculty might consider a hybrid course may still belong here.
The instructor and learner share the same physical space less than 50% of the time. Electronic delivery is used for the balance of instruction. During electronic interaction, the instructor and learner interact mostly at the same time.
These courses would almost always be using our specialized technology classrooms. The course type classification is very likely a standard lecture or seminar.
The instructor and learner share the same physical space less than 50% of the time. Electronic delivery is used for the balance of instruction. During electronic interaction, the instructor and learner interact mostly at different times.
This covers courses with occasional class meetings and will likely be scheduled in any available classroom.
Apart from a face-to-face orientation or initial class meeting (and possibly testing), for formal instruction, the instructor and learner use electronic means to interact 100% of the time. During electronic interaction, the instructor and learner interact mostly at the same time.
These courses would either need to use our specialized technology classrooms or specific meeting coordination software. The course type classification is very likely a standard lecture or seminar.
Apart from a face-to-face orientation or initial class meeting (and possibly testing), for formal instruction, the instructor and learner use electronic means to interact 100% of the time. During electronic interaction, the instructor and learner interact mostly at different times.
These are the on-line courses primarily using videos, email, message boards, etc. and would get a course type classification of ID (internet-delivered).
Appendix III: Guidance on Classification of Programs
EMU classifies instructional programs with regard to distance education using a two-level framework. This classification framework is informed by federal definitions that guide the university's annual reporting to the government's Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS). EMU's degree and certificate programs must be classified into one of the two categories described in the table below.
|Distance Education Categorization||Definition||EMU Notes|
|Distance education program = Yes||A program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance (non-hybrid) education courses (i.e. categories D and E in Appendix II)||Note that required face-to-face orientation, initial class meeting, or testing sessions do not make a program non-distance education.|
|Distance education program = No||A program for which at least some of the required coursework for program completion must be completed via predominant face-to-face or distance-hybrid courses (i.e. categories A, B ,C in Appendix II)||Any program for which there is an expectation that students attend classes in-person with regularity or for an extended period of time is not considered to be a distance education program (even if the program also maintains an expectation of some distance education courses or class sessions). |
Definitions based on IPEDS glossary entries for distance education program and distance education course, updated July 2020:
- Distance education program - A program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses.
- Distance education course - A course in which the instructional content is delivered exclusively via distance education. Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing, or academic support services do not exclude a course from being classified as distance education.