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CSU Distance Education Standards and Guidelines - Columbus State University

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CSU Distance Education Standards and Guidelines


Columbus State University has witnessed many courses offered in a distance learning format increase substantially over the past few years and this trend continues to grow. Several degrees and programs can now be completed solely through online delivery. Technological and pedagogical advances in distance learning are evolving rapidly which has greatly improved the quality of distance education to include more opportunities for student discovery and engagement.

The growth of distance learning offerings at colleges nationwide has led to the development of broad standards by SACSCOC. The Distance Learning (DL) Committee seeks to establish a policy framework for distance learning that is based on SACSCOC standards, Quality Matters standards, and best practices in distance learning. The purpose of this document is to outline the Institutional Standards and Guidelines for Distance Learning at Columbus State University.

Distance Learning Guidelines and Standards

SACSCOC and Quality Matters Standards


  1. Provide students with important information about distance learning courses prior to registration and ensure students taking distance learning have access to institutional academic support resources (advising, library, Accommodation and Access, etc.).
  2. Ensure students are provided with a consistent and secure way to access distance learning course materials and grades through CSU's Learning Management System.
  3. Ensure a level of interaction and communication between students and instructor (as well as students to students) that is regular and substantive.
  4. Ensure the quality of distance learning courses to be acceptable to students, transfer universities, and local employers, and meet or exceed the quality standards defined in Quality Matters national standards.
  5. Minimize academic dishonesty by verifying students' identities prior to taking exams, ensure authentication of students enrolling in online courses, and by encouraging faculty to adopt instructional practices that minimize the possibility of academic dishonesty.
  6. Encourage faculty to keep up with advances in distance education through ongoing professional development.

Standards Statement

This document establishes minimum standards for distance learning courses based on input from distance learning faculty, guidelines from accrediting agencies (SACS), Quality Matters (QM), and distance learning best practices. These standards apply to all distance learning formats, and to the distance learning component of hybrid courses. Individual colleges, departments, and instructors are encouraged to adopt additional standards based on appropriate application needs.

Distance Learning Versus Correspondence Courses

Distance Learning Courses must meet the U.S. Dept. of Education definition for Distance Learning:

Distance education means education that uses one or more of the technologies listed in paragraphs (1) through (4) of this definition to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, either synchronously or asynchronously. The technologies may include:

  • The internet
  • One-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices
  • Audio conferencing
  • Video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the cassettes, DVDs, or CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with any of the technologies listed in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this definition
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