Distance Education


DSU supports distance education as a way of building, maintaining, and extending quality programs that complement the traditional work of the University. Distance education refers to courses and programs delivered by electronically mediated formats in which instruction occurs when the students and the instructors are not in the same place.  

Asynchronous: In distance education, asynchronous refers to activities the learner may do independently with respect to the instructor and other class participants. Asynchronous activities allow for a non-sequential order for the learner to accomplish the goals or assignments of the course. Posting to an electronic bulletin board would be an example of an asynchronous activity.

Distance Education: Distance education consists of all arrangements for providing instruction through technology-based instruction to persons engaged in planned learning in a place or at a time different from that of the instructor or instructors. (see IHL Policy 503.0101)

Hybrid Instruction: Although not recognized by IHL as a delivery type, the term hybrid instruction in this document is used to describe a course or program that combines an online segment with regularly scheduled face to face class meetings. The regularly scheduled class meetings are reduced in number and those segments are replaced by an online portion.

Interactive Video Conference: occurs in real time and allows the instructor to communicate with remote site sections of the class via one or two-way video and two-way audio. Instructors and students speak to each other via microphones provided at each receive site. 

Online Instruction (course): Online instruction is defined by IHL as education or training in which at least 51% of the content of a course is electronically delivered to a student who is separated from the instructor. Students can take courses via the Internet, contact their tutors and peers, take tests, and put their own work up for discussion. Study is organized around fixed units of time. Online Courses at Delta State University have no regularly scheduled campus class meetings. Instructors may schedule meetings with students that meet the student’s time schedule.

Online Program: A distance education program that offers more than 50% of its content in an online format will be designated as an online program. This designation follows the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Substantive Change guidelines for distance learning programs.

State Authorization: Every institution that offers online programs or coursework for students in other states will be responsible for obtaining authorization from each state to offer such.

Synchronous: In terms of distance education, synchronous refers to activities that the learner needs to do either in a sequential order or in real time with other class participants. For example, students participating in a chat session are communicating in a synchronous manner.


While keeping within the established mission of the university, the distance education program will provide the following:

  • Greater access for students to the academic credit and non-credit offerings of the University.
  • High-quality instruction.
  • Cooperative efforts with other IHL institutions, K-12 educational agencies, and community entities to provide opportunities for teaching, research, and public service efforts.

All distance education credit courses are taught by faculty, with all 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)  

Academic Standards for Distance Education

Distance education courses and programs will meet all academic requirements and quality standards of Delta State University and of all accrediting bodies.

Class Cancellations

Classes will be cancelled only in emergency situations and with as much advance notice as possible.

Contractual Agreements

  1. No individual, program, or department may agree in a contract with any private or public entity to deliver distance education courses or programs on behalf of DSU without prior university approval.
  2. The university shall not agree in a contract with any private or public entity to deliver distance education courses or programs without the prior approval of the relevant department or program.
  3. Agencies providing funding for special certificates or degree programs or courses will not acquire any privileges regarding the admission standards, academic continuation standards or degree requirements for students or faculty attached to a university-approved academic program.

Course Quotas

Quotas for distance education classes are set by the department/division head in consultation with college/school dean.

Credit Hours

Credit Hours assigned for distance education courses will adhere to the university policy for establishing Credit Hours and will provide the equivalent to face-to-face contact minutes and minimum out-of-class work.  

Distance Education Approval

Distance education courses will be recommended and approved through university review procedures following the path of Department, Dean, and Academic Council. Distance education programs will be recommended and approved through university review procedures, following the path of Department, Dean, Academic Council, Cabinet, IHL, and accreditation groups. For approved courses and programs, departments assign teaching faculty, determine quotas, and accrue student credit hours for courses taught.  The Office of Continuing and Distance Education schedules courses in conjunction with academic departments, provides on-site support staff, and assists academic departments with evaluations.

Distance Education Committee

Committee members were appointed by the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and included representation from all colleges/schools and other units as determined by the Academic Council. The Director of Instructional Technology and the Director of Distance Education served as Co-chairs of the Distance Education Committee for coordination and staff support. The DSU Distance Education Committee developed and recommended distance education policies and procedures to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, who in turn, submitted the recommended policies and procedures to Academic Council and then to Cabinet for approval. The Committee will be reconvened if needed in the future.

Distance Education Delivery Coordination

The Director of Instructional Technology will facilitate working with cooperating units for delivery of interactive video courses as directed by the respective dean and department/division head. All use of the videoconferencing technology will be coordinated between the department heads, deans, the Academic Affairs Office, and OIT. The Director of Instructional Technology will be responsible for coordinating implementation, maintenance, and backup of all online courses.


The enrollment process for students in distance education courses is equivalent to the procedures used for traditional classroom courses.

Exam Policies

Students in Live/Interactive sections of a course may be required to take proctored exams at their remote sites. Instructors may require online students to take a proctored exam. Picture IDs will be checked at the exam sites. Students may be allowed to take proctored tests at a local college or university testing center. In any case of proctored exams, instructors will provide test dates for the semester to the Director of Distance Education approximately two months prior to the start of the semester a course is to be taught and assist the Director of Distance Education in arranging for exams.

Faculty Evaluation

Faculty members teaching distance education courses will be evaluated using DSU evaluation procedures and instruments.

Interactive Video Courses

Delta State University offers Interactive video classes in several formats. Not all courses are available at all remote sites or in every format.  

Liability & Security

  1. Faculty members will ensure that all materials transmitted or displayed over distance education networks (e.g. Internet, interactive video, broadcast TV) are properly licensed, and that the necessary transmitting rights have been secured. DSU requires compliance with all applicable copyright laws concerning the reproduction of printed materials and the use of transmission of film, videotapes, recordings, performances or other protected works. (see “Copyright Permission” under Faculty Issues)
  2. The faculty member will observe all Federal Education Right to Privacy Act regulations governing information or material transmitted over distance education networks.
  3. Faculty members will comply with University and FERPA rules and regulations when reporting grades and other sensitive information to students over distance education networks.

Syllabus or Study Guide Guidelines

  1. In addition to the required elements of all DSU syllabi, those developed for distance learners will include:

    A.  Distance education webpage link;
    B.  Any resources required for each lesson;
    C.  Procedures for submitting course assignments;
    D.  Procedures for obtaining course handouts and support materials;
    E.  Procedures for dealing with technical problems and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ);
    F.  Descriptions and details of requirements for distance education student interaction, participation, and technical skills; and
    G.  Processes for accessing library resources, student services, proctored examinations, and when appropriate, videotapes of classes.

  2. Faculty will develop appropriate student study guides, handbooks or other instructional materials that support the delivery of instruction by distance. For the most part, students will be expected to act independently based on the instructions provided by the faculty.


Copyright Permission

Faculty members are responsible for securing advance written copyright clearances on any copyright-protected materials they may use in their broadcast, re-run, or online classes. Additional information on Copyright is available on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at: http://www.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ1.html. The only substantial exception to the rule that only copyright holders may distribute copyrighted material is the long-standing provision that individuals may make “fair use” of copyrighted materials. Use of a copyrighted work “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research” (17 USC 107) is generally considered fair use. Fair use does not extend to extensive quotations and may not adversely affect the commercial market for the work in question.

Intellectual Property

The materials created by faculty members for distance education courses will be treated in the same fashion as materials created by faculty members for traditional courses.  

Site Facilitators and Distance Education Assistance

Technology Learning Center staff are available to assist faculty and students in the on-campus section of interactive video courses. Everyone involved with distance education may also call the Technology Learning Center for assistance. The Technology Learning Center maintains and updates an informational distance education website and provides instructional and technical support to faculty and students.

Support Services


The OIT staff provides assistance in establishing student e-mail accounts for distance education   courses. All distance education faculty and students must have an e-mail account. These accounts        will be activated at the request of the course instructor or student(s) enrolled in the class.


The Roberts LaForge Library staff coordinates library support for all distance education classes and         will consult with faculty in planning their courses to assure appropriate library services. Faculty can     determine the needs for their class and can receive assistance in determining availability of resources       at various libraries, online access information and training, or the mailing of specific materials requested by students.


The services are available to all faculty. Faculty interested in incorporating technology into their   traditional (classroom) courses are provided assistance and instruction in one-on-one sessions as well as group workshops. Interactive video and online faculty are provided assistance and instruction            during the orientation and logistics meeting conducted by the Director of Instructional Technology.    Online faculty are also provided web courseware, web accounts, and design assistance by Instructional Technology staff preceding and during the semester the course is taught.   In addition,   OIT personnel provide help setting up courseware accounts, web accounts, home pages on the Internet, forms for gathering data on the Internet, and other assistance with websites for distance     education faculty. 

Textbooks and Copy Center Packets

Faculty textbook orders will be handled through the usual departmental channels. A Copy Center packet containing all class handouts or handouts can be scanned in and made available through the homepage. Students may purchase these at the beginning of the semester through the Campus Bookstore. Students may order their textbooks and packets by phone from the Campus Bookstore and receive them by mail for an additional handling fee, if they call before the Campus Bookstore’s specified mail order deadlines. 


All faculty scheduled to teach a distance education course for the first time must participate in a course preparation program. The Office of Information Technology provides training opportunities for all faculty using distance education technology in instruction. Any instructor wishing to teach an interactive video or online course for the first time will attend an orientation and logistics meeting, which will be conducted by the Instructional Technology Center staff, who will coordinate and lead these activities as well as work with interactive video and online courses, and assist faculty as needed prior to and during the semester their course is delivered. Web design consultants may also be assigned to assist online faculty.


Enrolled students in distance education courses shall have access to the range of student services to support their learning comparable to that of the on-campus learner. Services will also be supportive of the part-time distance learner. Students will be provided with clear, complete information about programs of study including curriculum, course and degree requirements; the nature of faculty and student interaction; assumptions about technical competence and skills; technical equipment requirements; and availability of academic support services, financial aid resources, and cost and payment policies to include any fees specific to the distance course, or program, or security measures. Enrolled students will also have adequate access to the range of services appropriate to support their learning including, but not limited to, admission services; registration; transcripts; financial aid – including access to Veteran’s Assistance programs, scholarships, grants and loans; academic advising; library services; methods of adding or dropping course; bookstore services; and adequate communication about registration and admission requirements. 

Academic Honesty

Students taking distance education courses will be held to the same requirements of academic honesty as students taking traditional courses. Faculty will ensure that safeguards have been built into the distance education course format to require that students be held to the same standards of academic honesty as students in traditional courses.

ADA Compliance

Students with disabilities needing special accommodations should contact the DSU Counseling Center in the Reilly Health Center; Dr. Richard Houston, 662.846.4690, rhouston@deltastate.edu


Information and advice about requirements for admission to DSU and admission to specific programs will be available online to distance education students. (see webpages for: Admissions, International Students, Graduate & Continuing Studies)


Comparable advising services are available to both on-campus and distance education students. Advice about academic programs is critical to the success and productivity of the student. Distance education advising is available in a range of modes, using various technologies (e-mail, telephone, web).

Computer Literacy Prerequisites

It will be necessary that students come to the course with the requisite knowledge enabling them to use the technology. Because access to computers in homes and schools is not uniform, students arrive in distance education classrooms in all states of readiness. Distance education programs/courses will identify computer literacy prerequisites needed for students to participate successfully, so students may be properly advised about skill level that is required. 

Financial Aid

Students enrolled in distance education courses are eligible to apply for Federal Financial Aid. Federal Financial Aid includes grants, loans, and a student employment program.  Students should apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov each academic year.  For additional information, please contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance at (662) 846-4670 or visit their office in Kent Wyatt Hall 144.


Appropriate library services will be available to distance education students. Quality programs demand adequate library services for all students. Specific library/staff resources are designated at campus libraries to adequately service distance education students as well as support interlibrary loan policies and online access to catalogs and materials.


Responsible Office: Office of Academic Affairs



  • Revised by Academic Council minutes, 08-25-2009, 02-23-2010, 02-08-2011, 08-08-2013
  • ADA Policy, Credit Hour Policy, Intellectual Property Policy, Student Handbook
  • IHL Policy
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


Policy Effective Date:
08-08-2013 (Revised, Academic Council)