254  Distance Education

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division:  Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:  Dean, University College
Responsible Officer: Dean, University College

I. Purpose

Distance education is an established and effective method for extending educational opportunities. To provide the citizens of Tennessee with greater access to postsecondary education, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) affirms the effectiveness of distance education; recommends the use and development of distance education technologies, when appropriate, to meet student learning outcomes; and encourages academic departments to take advantage of such opportunities in carrying out their individual missions.

II. Definition

Distance education occurs when there is a physical separation of the instructor and the learner and when communication and instruction take place through, or are supported by, any technological means such as, but not limited to, telephone, radio, television, computers, satellite delivery, interactive video, or any combination of present and future technologies.

III. Academic Standards

In establishing distance education programs, the following stipulations shall apply:

A.  Each distance education course offered by MTSU must be consistent with the level, nature, and mission of the University.

B.  When a course is offered through distance education, it will carry the same code, title, and credit as other sections of that course.

C.  Each distance education course must provide for interaction and timely feedback between students and faculty member(s) teaching the course. As appropriate, these interactions may be individual, group, or mixed. They may take place electronically, i.e., by telephone, by computer, or by interactive video.

D.  Each distance education course must include an assessment of that delivery mode in its procedures for monitoring and assessing student performance.

E.  Each student enrolled in a distance education course shall have access to all the academic support services, instructional equipment, campus events, and other non-academic activities, which MTSU provides for other students.

F.  Support services may include, but are not limited to, academic advising, counseling, library and other learning resources, tutoring services, and financial aid.

IV. Program Planning and Implementation

The following issues must be addressed as MTSU plans and implements distance education programs:

A.  Faculty, administrators, and other support personnel involved in the development and implementation of distance education must have clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and duties.

B.  Faculty involved in distance education must receive specialized training in the use of the medium and be provided with adequate technology/equipment to support the course requirements.

C.  MTSU will determine teaching load equivalents and faculty compensation for distance education.

D.  The University shall make academic and administrative information available to distance education students. This information may include, but is not limited to: exams, grading, student-faculty interaction, proctoring, the provision of support services, and registration and fee-payment procedures.

E.  Consortial purchasing arrangements with other institutions for the development, production, or transmittal of distance education courseware and materials should be considered, as appropriate, to reduce costs of the development, production, or transmittal of distance education courseware and materials.

V. Requirements and Standards

Distance education will meet the academic requirements and quality standards of the University.

VI. Reporting Credit Hours

For the purpose of reporting and appropriations, no distinction shall be made between student credit hours generated through distance education and those generated through on-campus instruction.

VII. Applicability of University Policies

A.  Unless otherwise provided, all accrediting agency and University policies, standards, and guidelines for on-campus instruction apply to distance education instruction.

B.  Applicable policies include, but are not limited to:

1. Policy 251 Approval of Academic Programs, Units, and Modifications

2. Policy 255 Inter-institutional Relationships

3. Policy 301 Admissions

4. Policy 314 Undergraduate Academic Retention Standards

5. Policy 501 Classifying Students In-State and Out-of-State for Paying University Fees and Tuition and for Admission Purposes

6. Policy 640 Payment of Student Fees and Enrollment

VIII. Administration of Distance Education

A.  The University College is responsible for oversight and administration of the distance education program of the University.

B.  University College shall ensure compliance with all applicable copyright laws concerning the reproduction of printed materials and the use and transmission of films, filmstrips, videotapes, recordings, performances, or other protected works.

Forms: none.

Revisions: none.

Last Reviewed: November 2020.

References: Policies 251 Approval of Academic Programs, Units, and Modifications; 255 Inter-institutional Relationships; 301 Admissions; 314 Undergraduate Academic Retention Standards; 501 Classifying Students In-State and Out-of-State for Paying University Fees and Tuition and for Admission Purposes; 640 Payment of Student Fees and Enrollment.