June 25, 2017 08:10 am

Distance Education

Academic Affairs Policy Statement No. 21 (.pdf)
Distance Education Proposal Form (.docx)
Online Degrees, Majors, or Certificates Approval Routing - Flow Chart (.pdf)
E-Suffix Policy (.pdf)
Individual Course Syllabus (.pdf)

Academic Affairs Policy Statement No. 21

1. References

a. Academic Affairs Handbook, Board of Regents, University System of Georgia.

b. Bylaws of the University Council of the University of Georgia, 2005.

2. Background

The following policy replaces that outlined in the November 16, 2001, memorandum from Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Holbrook entitled “Goals and Responsibilities in UGA Distance Learning.”

3. Purpose

This policy (1) advocates a case-by-case evaluation of distance education opportunities rather than an across-the-board approach in favor of distance education, (2) does not mandate any particular use of internal resources for format or delivery of distance education, and (3) provides for more coordination of distance education. Courses delivered in an online or distance format must be equivalent in content, level, rigor, and overall educational quality to courses taught in regular classroom instruction.

4. Definition

Distance education, also known as online learning and other formats, is defined to include any credit-bearing course of which more than 95% is delivered through distance learning or any credit-bearing program of which more than 50% is delivered through distance learning. Distance learning is defined by the Board of Regents as instruction delivered through one or more forms of distance technology, and in which the instructor of record and the student(s) are separated by time and/or geographic location such as two-way video conferencing, online asynchronous or synchronous, web-based materials and resources, electronic-based discussion, video and/or audio streaming. The definition of distance education does not include noncredit-bearing courses, including continuing education courses under the auspices of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach.

5. Responsibilities

a. Instructional Units

  1. The academic instructional units and faculty will retain control and authority over the initial decision of whether to offer courses or programs through distance education, which courses or programs to offer, and what method of delivery to pursue.
  2. The substantive content of the courses or programs, as well as the staffing of those courses or programs, is the responsibility of the academic instructional unit who has 2 primary responsibility for maintaining the quality and integrity of all instruction in its area regardless of the course format or method of delivery.
  3. Faculty who provide distance education must meet the same qualifications as faculty who provide regular classroom instruction.

b. Central Administration

Central responsibility for distance education curriculum will be placed in the office of the Vice President for Instruction. The Vice President for Instruction shall, in consultation with the Provost, appoint a Director of Distance Education whose duties will include, but may or may not be limited to, coordination and facilitation of distance education curriculum. This individual will report directly to the Vice President for Instruction.

6. Procedures

a. A course or program may not be offered through distance education unless it has been approved through the University’s curriculum approval process.

b. Courses

A course of which more than 95% is delivered through distance technology will be considered to be a distance education course and will require an E-suffix. The course should be approved through the University’s course approval process (CAPA) (Appendix A). When offering a distance education course, units should provide additional information in the syllabus as outlined in the distance education individual course syllabus (Appendix B).

c. Programs

The Board of Regents requires that a program must have approval as an External Degree if more than 50% of the courses included in the program are to be offered through distance education. Courses and/or degree programs offered online must adhere to the guidelines, criteria, and nomenclature contained in the document “External Instruction in the University System of Georgia: Policies and Procedures” as adopted by the Board of Regents on February 2, 2005, and as thereafter amended. This document is maintained in the Academic Affairs Handbook. The proposal for an External Degree should be consistent with the University mission and follow the format provided in Appendix C.

7. Approval Process

Courses require approval to be offered through distance education and will require an E-suffix. Approval will follow the established course approval process. Per Board of Regents policy, all programs offered through distance education require approval as an External Degree. External Degree proposals will be submitted by deans of respective schools or colleges or directors of institutes directly to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Graduate program proposals must first be reviewed by the Dean of the Graduate School who will then forward them to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Proposals will be reviewed by the University Curriculum Committee and subsequently forwarded with a recommendation to the University Council for consideration. University Council recommendations on proposals are forwarded to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost who will transmit the same to the President of the University for consideration. The President will transmit proposals to the Board of Regents with his or her recommendation. Board of Regents approval is required for External Degree programs. A proposal for a program that will be offered through distance education should follow the format provided in Appendix C.

8. Guidelines for Distance Education

a. Courses or programs should comply with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) statement on Distance Education. In addition, courses or programs must meet the following requirements to be considered appropriate for distance education:

  1. All distance education, as defined in this policy, should be offered in conjunction with a UGA degree or certificate program.
  2. Distance education offerings may be provided only by existing academic units (instructional units, schools, or colleges). No new instructional unit, school, or college will be created for the purpose of offering distance education courses or degrees.
  3. Accreditation standards should be viewed as establishing minimum requirements but not necessarily as high as the standards the University wants to achieve with its distance education offerings.
  4. The syllabus for a distance education course should include the additional information listed in Appendix B.

b. The following factors listed below should be taken into account when deciding whether or not a course or program is appropriate for distance education. This is a balancing process that in some cases will point in favor of distance education, while in other cases it will not.

1. Important reasons to offer distance education include, but may not be limited to, the following examples:

a. An improved or enhanced learning experience for our currently enrolled students.

b. The ability to reach students the University otherwise would not be able to reach, permitting the University to extend degree programs or course work to qualified students who desire a UGA experience but who otherwise would not be able to access one.

c. An improved learning environment for faculty, who may welcome the opportunity to enhance their instructional or research programs.

d. To assist the University in carrying out its mission of serving the entire state of Georgia, both in terms of our land grant status and our charter.

2. Important reasons to be cautious about distance education include, but may not be limited to, the following examples:

a. Dilution of resources.

b. The time-intensive nature of many distance education offerings may interfere with faculty time for research and on-campus instruction, resulting in reduced productivity in assigned duties.

c. Less faculty time for on-campus instruction and/or research activities may dilute the educational experience for on-campus students.