Distance Education


Delta State University is committed to providing students from diverse backgrounds high quality distance education opportunities that are consistent with its role and mission. Following IHL Policy 201.0507, distance education policies and procedures adhere to established best practices, including those outlined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Following these best practices, the university will employ appropriate learning technologies and delivery formats to offer a variety of courses and programs.


Asynchronous Instruction
Instructional activities that do not require instructors and students to be engaged at the same time.

Course Delivery

Online Course – a course is considered to be online when 100% of the course is available via the university’s Learning Management System. Some online courses may require proctored testing at approved testing sites and/or other course activities such as practicum experiences.

Traditional Course – a course is considered traditional when instruction is delivered on-site with face-to-face interaction between the instructor and student. The traditional course may be web-enhanced.

  1. Web-enhanced – a course is considered web-enhanced when classes meet face-to-face and utilize the university’s Learning Management System to augment the course. The syllabus and/or other materials are available through the university’s Learning Management System. Students may be asked to submit some assignments electronically.
  2. Hybrid Course – a regularly scheduled course that includes a combination of online and face to face meetings.

Course Design Template
A university approved template with common components, criteria, and guidelines that faculty can adapt to their needs and requirements for all online courses.

Course Evaluation Rubric
A set of standards used to determine the quality of an online course.

Course Instructional Design
Instructional Design refers to the analysis of learning needs and the systematic approach to developing an online course in a manner that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and skills to the learner through the use of a variety of instructional methods, which cater to multiple learning styles, strategies, and preferences.

The four basic steps in instructional design include analysis, definition of goals and learning objectives, design of learning activities, and evaluation of course and student performance.

Course Syllabus Template
A university approved template in a pre-set format utilized by faculty in the development of syllabi for all online courses.

Distance Education
A formal synchronous or asynchronous educational event 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.

Online Program
A fully online program is one where 100% of the courses are delivered online. For accreditation purposes, some programs may have attendance requirements for program completion such as proctored examinations or practicum experiences.

Synchronous Instruction
Activities that require instructors and students to be engaged at the same time.


DE – Distance Education

DEC – Distance Education Committee

IHL – Institute of Higher Learning

IOR – Instructor of Record

LMS – Learning Management System

OIT – Office of Instructional Technology


I. Goals/Guiding Principles

All distance education courses are taught by faculty with the same standards, prerequisites, and requirements as on-campus sections of identical courses. All DSU policies and procedures, standards, and guidelines for on-campus programs and instruction are applicable to distance education instruction, unless noted otherwise, (see University Policy Manual; Student Handbook). Distance education courses are comparable to on-campus courses in terms of course descriptions, expectations, and student learning outcomes.

Distance Education Principles

Curriculum & Instruction
  1. Provide access to high quality programs to meet the educational and training needs among a diverse populace within and beyond the geographic service region of the University.
  2. Evaluate student learning outcomes and conduct continuous evaluation of distant education programs and courses.
  1. Attract, retain, and graduate an engaged and success-oriented distance learner population.
  2. Provide tools to assess student readiness for the distance education learning environment.
  3. Provide appropriate library resources, reference services, and information literacy instruction appropriate to meet the needs of the distance learner.
  1. Recruit, support, and enable faculty members to effectively design, develop, and teach distance education courses.
  2. Maintain the human and technical resources and network infrastructure necessary to reliably support and deliver distance education.
  3. Assess emerging methods and new technological avenues for providing and delivering efficient and effective distance education.


II. University Distance Education Committee

The University Distance Education Committee (DEC) consists of two members elected from each College and School. The members of the committee serve two year terms. The Committee Chair will be selected by the committee members, rotated among the Colleges and School, and serve a one year term. The Provost will appoint a dean to serve on the DEC as an ex-officio member and the Director of Instructional Technology from the Office of Instructional Technology will serve on the Committee as a non-voting advisor. The committee is responsible for developing policies, making recommendations, and promoting quality assurance including infrastructure, best practices, faculty and student support for all distance education programs and courses. The Committee also reviews new and existing online courses to ensure adherence to the Course Evaluation Rubric.

III. Curriculum and Instruction

Distance education courses are designed to meet the same learning outcomes and level of rigor as traditional courses. All online courses are delivered through the university approved Learning Management System (LMS). Faculty utilize the university approved Course Design Template to develop and teach online courses. The approved course design template consists of common components, criteria, and guidelines that faculty can adapt to the needs and requirements of each College or School department.

In addition, the College or School department guidelines are followed to ensure course content is organized in a logical system that meets other required standards, such as accreditation, and to ensure course content is easily accessible to the student.

IV. Approval and Review Process for online courses

All online and hybrid courses must be reviewed and approved by the Department Chair and Dean before it can be scheduled.

  1. The faculty member proposing a new online course, a new offering of an existing course, or a hybrid course will discuss the planned DE course or revisions with the appropriate Department Chair and submit a completed Distance Education Course Development and Revision Proposal with syllabus and topic outline. The Department Chair will seek approval from department faculty and/or the Curriculum Committee.
  2. The faculty member will develop the new online course with assistance from the Instructional Staff in the Office of Information Technology (OIT) using the approved Learning Management System templates and Course Evaluation Rubric. Once the course is developed, the faculty member will provide access to the Department Chair.
  3. The Department Chair will evaluate the new or revised online course using the Course Evaluation Rubric. If the course is approved, then the Department Chair will provide access to the University Distance Education Committee; if the online course is not approved, then the Department Chair will meet with the faculty member to discuss revisions for resubmission.
  4. The University Distance Education Committee will evaluate new and existing online courses and hybrid courses using the Course Evaluation Rubric. If the new online course is approved, the DEC will notify the Department Chair; if the new online course is not approved, the DEC will meet with the Department Chair and faculty to discuss revisions for resubmission. The DEC will notify the Department Chair the results of their evaluation of existing online courses. If an existing online course requires improvement based on the Course Evaluation Rubric, the Department Chair will meet with the faculty member to discuss revision for resubmission to the DEC.
  5. If the new online course is approved, the Department Chair will complete and submit the Course Action Request form [and Lab Fee form (if applicable)] to the College/School Dean.

V. Faculty

Faculty who teach in distance education programs and online courses meet the same qualifications as faculty who teach in traditional courses at Delta State University. Faculty who teach in distance education programs and online courses have the same Faculty Rights and Responsibilities [http://www.deltastate.edu/policies/policy/university-policies/employment/employee-responsibilities-and-standards/rights-and-responsibilities-faculty/] as faculty who teach in traditional courses. Faculty teaching in distance education programs and online courses are evaluated using the DSU evaluation procedures and instruments.

  1. Department Chair Responsibilities to Faculty Teaching Online Courses
    1. The Department Chair ensures departmental governance is adhered to for new and revised online courses.
    2. The Department Chair ensures all faculty teaching online courses are aware of the Distance Education Policy and Procedures.
    3. The Department Chair ensures faculty teaching online courses receive appropriate training on the Learning Management System.
    4. The Department Chair ensures that all online courses use the approved Course Design Template and adhere to the Distance Education policy.
    5. The Department Chair reviews existing online courses using the Course Evaluation Rubric every four years. Existing courses will begin with step two listed in the Approval and Review Process.
  2. Faculty Responsibilities
    1. Ensure the rigor of programs and quality of instruction are maintained within online courses (e.g. course design, course content, delivery of instruction, evaluating student progress, assessing learning outcomes, and timely communication with students).
    2. Develop and maintain currency with the latest technologies and pedagogical techniques by participating in group professional development activities, in one-on-one support sessions, or through self-study.
    3. Review online courses every semester in which a particular course is taught to determine currency of materials and content.
    4. Identify computer literacy prerequisites needed for students to participate successfully, so students may be properly advised about skill level that is required for the successful completion of the course.
    5. External links to third party materials, resources, and educational applications that are embedded in Canvas can be used to enhance course instruction. External learning management systems that are used in place of the University approved learning management system are in violation of this policy.
  3. Faculty Support
    1. Ongoing professional development opportunities in distance education strategies and technology tools are offered through the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to ensure best practices are integrated in distance education courses.
    2. Faculty are required to work with OIT when developing new or revising distant education courses.
    3. Instructor manuals are available in the Learning Management System to assist faculty in designing and developing online courses.
  4. Faculty Training
    1. New [full-time, part-time, or adjunct] faculty are required to attend the New Faculty Orientation training for the Learning Management System and the Orientation to Best Practices for Online Programs and Courses.
    2. Faculty teaching online courses are required to complete training in the delivery of distance education courses from OIT annually.

VI. Students

Students enrolled in distance education programs and courses shall have access to the range of student services to support their learning comparable to that of the student enrolled in a traditional course. Students taking distance education courses will be held to the same requirements of academic integrity as students enrolled in traditional courses. The Office of Information Technology Department provides orientation opportunities and resources for students enrolled in online courses that are appropriate to the technologies used, the content, and the learner.


Responsible Office and/or Policy Owner: Office of Academic Affairs



  • Reference date of approval and name of governing body granting approval
  • Reference related policies
  • Reference related IHL policies
  • Reference related local, state, and federal laws
  • Reference related forms, documents, etc…
    • Course Approval Process
    • Course Evaluation Rubric



Change/Review/Approval Date:

Academic Council: 08-08-2013; 07-23-2015
Cabinet Approval: 08-10-2015