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4.1.21 Distance Education


A distance education course is one in which 75 percent or more of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other. Distance education courses (i) deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor; and (ii) support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, synchronously or asynchronously. The Illinois Board of Higher Education refers to distance education as "technologically mediated instruction offered at a distance." 

A distance education program is one in which a student could earn the degree or certificate by taking 50 percent or more of the work (credit hours required for the degree or certificate) in distance education courses.

The university does not offer courses via correspondence education, which differs from distance education in the following ways: (1) The institution provides instructional materials, by mail or electronic transmission, including examinations, to students who are separated from the instructor. (2) Interaction between the instructor and the student is not regular and substantive, and is primarily initiated by the student. (3) Courses are typically self-paced. 

Note: The Illinois Board of Higher Education refers to distance education as "technologically mediated instruction offered at a distance."


Illinois State University follows regulations and principles for distance education as mandated by the US Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the State of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Specifically, Illinois State University will:

  • Ensure that all distance education courses and programs are consistent with the mission of the University and that faculty are fully involved in initiating, designing, and delivering all courses and programs offered through distance education.
  • Assess distance education in the context of regular periodic evaluation of all academic programs to ensure the same high standards for all courses regardless of delivery method.
  • Obtain appropriate authorization in other states, districts, and territories or through a state authorization reciprocity agreement to offer distance education, including individual courses and programs.
  • Ensure that credit hours granted for distance education are based on equivalent student work completed in traditional classroom settings.
  • Follow the same curriculum approval process for all courses and programs regardless of delivery method.
  • Assure adequate staffing, support, physical plant facilities and technical assistance for students and faculty, including library and other academic support structures as needed as well as adequate technical support to ensure students are able to complete coursework and make steady progress in their programs. 
  • Ensure that all students enrolled in distance education have been regularly admitted to the university with appropriate verification of credentials and that admission and graduation requirements for distance education programs are the same as for programs offered face-to-face.
  • Ensure there is an appropriate process for review and appropriate action on complaints via a recognized state authorization reciprocity agreement. 
  • Ensure that appropriate admission processes, policies, and assessments are used to ensure that students are capable of succeeding in an online environment.
  • Verify the identity of students upon initial registration through appropriate forms of identification. Students will be informed of any additional expenses that they may incur as part of verification of identity.
  • Maintain adequate security for systems, assessments of learning, especially exams, in order to ensure academic integrity.
  • Offer disclosures for each distance education program as required by law. 
  • Provide faculty development opportunities on best practices (technical and pedagogical) for distance education and other topics including:   


  1. Faculty are responsible for using technology appropriately and for informing students about technical skills and software and hardware requirements necessary to complete the course or program, as applicable.
  2. All distance education courses must conform to the Appropriate Use Policy (9.2) to ensure that distance education courses will be delivered in compliance with copyright standards, particularly with respect to the use of images, and third-party copyrighted works.
  3. Instruction provided as distance education is subject to the requirements that may be imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12100 et. seq.) and section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Student Access and Accommodation Services (SAAS) determines student eligibility for reasonable accommodations. SAAS staff are available to consult with faculty on how to implement accommodations in a distance education course.  Information regarding the University's commitment to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, including complaint procedures, is available at the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access website. 





Initiating Office:  Office of the Provost

Contact:  Associate Provost, Undergraduate Studies 438-2187

Created:  9/2013

Updated 09/2018

2018-12-11T13:04:02.948-06:00 2018