Online Education

A Division of the Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning

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Regulations: Accreditation, Federal Regulations, ADA

In order to ensure that online courses meet the accreditation requirements and the standards for academic rigor that the University of Rhode Island promotes, the Office of Online Education has targeted four primary areas that need both faculty and administrative attention.

1. Faculty Preparation (NEASC Requirements):

“Faculty responsible for delivering online learning curricula and evaluating students’ success in achieving the online learning goals are appropriately qualified and effectively supported.”*

Problem: NEASC Standards for online learning are gaining traction in the evaluation process, with increasing attention being paid to faculty training and institutional support of the online learning environment.

Solutions We Offer:

Recommendations:

*NEASC “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (Online Learning)“, p. 3.

2. Accessibility for All Students:

“Title 5, section 55200. Instruction provided as distance education is subject to the requirements that may be imposed by Americans with Disabilities Act(42 U.S.C. §12100 et seq.) and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.”

Problem: Ensuring compliance with ADA requirements remains essential and legally mandated. The addition of multimedia to course designs (classroom-based, blended, and online) complicates the issues of ensuring that students with disabilities are accommodated. ADA compliance affects videos, audio, PDFs, graphics, images, synchronous webcasts, lecture capture, among other components and must be included from the design phase onward.

Solutions We Offer:

  • With the Office of Disability Services, aid in reaching compliance effectively and efficiently
  • Material regarding accessibility is covered in Online Teaching Fellows

Recommendations:

  • Department policies to ensure that new online, blended, and classroom based courses are proactively developed as accessible to all students
  • University commitment to resources to support proactive compliance with accessibility standards, including 24/7 tech support

3. Authentication (Federal DOE Requirement):

“The institution has in place procedures through which to ensure that the student who registers for an online course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit.” **

Problem:

  • Institutions must verify the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework through such methods as secure login and passcode; proctored examinations; and new identification technologies.
  • Institutions must protect student privacy and notify students of any projected additional charges associated with the verification of student identity at registration or enrollment.

Solutions We Offer

  • Learning Management System (Sakai), which requires secure login and passcode
  • Instructional Design Assistance in creating or moving courses to Sakai

Recommendations:

  • Departments require that Online and Blended courses are offered through Sakai

**NEASC “Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (Online Learning)”, p. 3.

4. Distance Education – not Correspondence course:

A distance education course requires “regular and substantive interaction between these students and the instructor.” (§ 600.2 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations):

Problem: The largest areas of dissatisfaction from online students occur in courses where the instructor is perceived to be absent. Students expect and deserve clear and timely feedback and interaction with their faculty.

Solutions We Offer:

  • Online Teaching Fellows 1 (Pedagogy) and 2 (Course Design)
  • Individual Consultation with Instructional Designer
  • Membership in Quality Matters and use of their best practices rubric

Recommendations:

  • Departmental policy to assign online courses to appropriately trained faculty and/or require training
  • Departmental/College review of online syllabi to ensure they include information on how the instructor will provide regular and substantive interaction between students and instructor

Resources

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