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200 – ACADEMIC, GRANT AND RESEARCH POLICIES / 206.1 Distance Education Policy

Date Adopted: 03/07/2024
References: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); CFR Title 34 § 600.2 Definitions; University of Montana Western Faculty Collective Bargaining AgreementMontana Board of Regents Policy 303.7 Online Learning
Issuing Office: Academic Affairs 
Approved By: Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

1. Policy

Distance Education courses at the University of Montana Western will comply with standards described by the U.S. Department of Education, Americans with Disability Act (ADA)Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Montana Board of Regents Policy 303.7, and U.S. Copyright Laws.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish standards for credit-based Internet, Online, Blended, Hybrid-Flexible (“Hyflex”), and other Distance courses, as defined by Montana Board of Regents Policy 303.7.

3. Procedures

Program and Course Modality Definitions

  1. Distance Education: The University of Montana Western adopts the definition of Distance Education set out by the U.S. Department of Education in 34 CFR 600.2. Distance Education includes all of the following modalities.
  2. Online Program: Any academic degree or certificate program in which all of the required coursework can be completed through online delivery.
  3. Limited-residency Program: Any academic degree or certificate program in which 80% or more ofthe required coursework (but not all) can be completed through online delivery. Coursework not provided through online delivery must only require concentrated, short-term on-campus experiences and/or internship, clinical, or practicum experiences that may be completed near a student’s location.
  4. Internet or Online delivery means that 100% of the course section is offered completely online and delivered asynchronously, with no face-to-face interaction required between instructors and students.
  5. Synchronous Remote delivery is characterized by a course section offered through scheduled (synchronous) interactive video, including desktop conferencing. A course delivered through synchronous remote delivery may have a face-to-face classroom location where students may choose to attend.
  6. Blended delivery is designed specifically to be delivered partially online in an asynchronous format and partially through face-to-face (F2F) interaction, typically in the classroom. Both online and F2F interactions are required for the course, with 20-80% of the course delivered online. This delivery is characterized by the expectation of reduced F2F class meeting time when compared to the equivalent credit classroom course.
  7. Limited On-site delivery is characterized by a course section wherein 80% or more (but not all) of the course section is delivered online in an asynchronous format. Course requirements not provided through online delivery must only require concentrated, short-term in-person experiences and/or internship, clinical, or practicum experiences that may be completed near a student’s location.
  8. Hybrid-Flexible or ‘Hyflex’ delivery is any class section where students may choose to attend either in an assigned F2F classroom environment or in an asynchronous online environment (remote synchronous may also be available but is not required).
  9. Other Distance delivery includes courses other than internet/online and interactive video, and may include correspondence courses, tape/DVD delivery, etc.

Consistency of Courses between Modalities

All courses with the same course number but offered in different modalities must meet the same course learning outcomes as well as provide equivalent instruction and assessments to students.

Faculty-Learner Interaction

Faculty members must provide regular and substantive interaction with learners enrolled in a Distance Education course per the guidelines provided by the Department of Education, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Montana Board of Regents. Interactions are instructor-driven, frequent, and consistent throughout the term. Faculty members may use a variety of methods and resources appropriate to the course and discipline to facilitate contact with learners. Among other strategies, interactions may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Providing formative and summative feedback to learners;
  2. Making weekly announcements with comments;
  3. Leading and facilitating discussion boards;
  4. Posting instructor-created instructional materials;
  5. Moderating group work;
  6. Facilitating learner-to-learner communication;
  7. Providing real-time audio or video conferencing;
  8. Holding scheduled virtual office hours;
  9. Sending and answering emails;
  10. Holding review and tutoring sessions; and
  11. Meeting face-to-face if necessary/possible.

Faculty teaching online sections will provide information about communication response times, time parameters for grading and returning work, and availability for student meetings/office hours in the course syllabus.

Authentication of Student Work

To verify they are the person registered for the course, UMW students will use Single Sign On procedures to access the Learning Management System.

Other verification procedures, such as remote proctoring or lock-down browsers, may be implemented as needed. Students will be notified at the time of registration of any fees and charges associated with these procedures.

Any verification process or procedure used must ensure a student’s privacy, both of their personal data and personal space. Moreover, such processes and procedures cannot explicitly or implicitly discriminate against students due to disability, race, gender, gender identity, ethnic background, or economic standing.

Experiential Learning

All distance learning courses should seek to provide students with immersive experiences in their field of study or experiential learning that is relevant to course outcomes. The University, through ITS/eLearning, will support faculty in ensuring that distance courses are consistent with the mission and objectives of UMW.

4. Authority

This policy is consistent with Montana BOR Policy 303.7, U.S. Department of Education CFR Title 34 § 600.2, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

5. Responsibility

Faculty members have the primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum and pedagogy as implemented in all instructional modalities. The Office of the Provost is responsible for this policy.