Content Loading
Skip to main content

Policy for Distance Education

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

In response to the regulatory challenges of delivering postsecondary distance education courses to different states and territories, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) was established to create compatible national standards for interstate delivery of post-secondary distance-education courses and programs. Under the oversight of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and four regional compacts, this voluntary agreement provides a process by which states and territories can approve public and private institutions, which are legally domiciled within their borders, to participate in the SARA.

As the state portal agency for SARA in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) falls under the jurisdiction of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and is responsible for the initial approval and on-going oversight of SARA activities in the state. If a public or private institution is approved to operate as a SARA institution by the OSRHE, the institution will be eligible, under the policies and standards of the SARA, to deliver distance education to students residing in states which are also SARA members.

At SWOSU, rubrics for distance courses and training for instructors provide documentation of quality assurance standards. These standards satisfy NC-SARA and HLC requirements.

Distance Education Course Definitions

Online Course

Online courses are conducted 75-100% online. The faculty member meets with students via the Internet, primarily through the university’s learning management system (LMS). Interactions between the faculty and the students are conducted by email, zoom, face to face, phone, or LMS Chat. All examinations are taken online and may require designated site proctoring. Faculty interact with students on a regular and recurring basis throughout the semester. This category may also include some forms of mobile learning technology.

Webinar Course

Webinar courses require students to meet with the faculty member synchronously on a regular, recurring, and scheduled basis using webinar software rather than in a traditional classroom setting. Students are required to attend classes at a set time. Faculty interact with students on a regular and recurring basis throughout the semester. This category may also include some forms of mobile learning technology.

Blended Course

Blended courses are a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, where a minimum of 50-75% of the required student “seat-time” is conducted online through the LMS system with the remainder of the course meeting synchronously in a face-to-face, traditional classroom setting or through synchronous online technology. Students are required to meet with the instructor synchronously as specified, while also engaging with the faculty member and class through asynchronous learning activities in the university’s learning management system. Testing for these courses may be done online, during the face-to-face portion of the course, or at a designated site. This category may also include some forms of mobile learning technology.

Number of minutes a blended course needs to meet online and face to face per credit hour:

Course Credit Hours

Minutes online (50-75%)

Minutes F2F (50-25%)

1 credit=50 min/wk=800 min/semester

400-600

400-200

2 credit=100 min/wk=1600 min/semester

800-1200

800-400

3 credit=150 min/wk=2400 min/semester

1200-1800

1200-600

Self-Paced Course

Self-paced courses may be a combination of modules to study various software packages as a part of a three-part series covering introductory through advanced concepts in using an application or use of modules to learn course content. Self-paced courses are conducted 100% online, primarily through the university’s learning management system (LMS), and are designed to be accomplished at the student’s own speed. Students and faculty do not meet synchronously. Students are not required to come to campus or to meet with the faculty member at a specific time. All examinations are taken online and do not require designated site proctoring. All interactions between the faculty and the students are conducted online.

Class Sizes for Online Courses

Class sizes for online sections should be slightly smaller than traditional face-to-face classes, with a similar amount of interaction expected. Class limits for online classes will be 85% of the class limit of the same class taught face-to-face. Exceptions must be requested and approved by the Academic Dean and Provost.

Student Identity Verification

The verification of the identity of students who participate in distance education coursework, including all courses using the learning management system, at SWOSU may make use of variety of methods including but not limited to: (1) secure login and passcode; (2) proctored examinations; and (3) new or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying the identity of students. SWOSU uses these reasonable and appropriate safeguards to protect student privacy. View our complete Policy for Student Identity Verification in Distance Learning.

SWOSU provides Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor for faculty use for assessment purposes to verify student identity. Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within online courses. Students are unable to print, copy, or access other websites and applications. The link to download can be found in Resources for Student Success in Canvas. Respondus Monitor is a companion application for LockDown Browser that uses webcam and video technology to allow assessment sessions to be recorded. It is ideal for non-proctored environments where online tests pose unique challenges.

Military IDs are not acceptable to use in Respondus Monitor as student identity verification. SWOSU IDs or a Driver’s License with a photo ID is acceptable to use as student identity verification.

Expectations for Instructors

Presence – Online/Blended

Instructors in traditional face-to-face classes are expected to be present at class sessions; regular and ongoing presence by faculty is also expected for online instructors or blended instructors in the online portion of a class. The standard is that online/blended faculty will be present at least three (3) times per week regardless of the number of credit hours for the course. Presence is defined as logging in to check for and respond to questions and problems. There should be no more than 48 hours between logins, except for weekends and official university holidays.

Presence – Webinar

Regular and ongoing presence by faculty is also expected for webinar instructors. The standard is that webinar faculty will meet a total of 150 minutes per week for a three-credit course. Presence is defined as active and engaged facilitated teaching and learning activities, lecture, groups with discussions, etc.

Communication – Online/Blended

In order to facilitate student engagement in an online or the online portion of a blended class, instructors should communicate with all students enrolled in the course at least once per week. Communication may consist of mass emails, announcements, or other communication methods.

Communication – Webinar

In order to facilitate student engagement in a webinar course, instructors should be engaged in and outside the classroom. Communication may consist of emails, office hours, etc., for instructions, etc.

Instructor and Student Interaction

In online, webinar, and blended courses, interaction centered on course materials and topics will encourage a sense of community among course participants and provide all students with feedback and interaction opportunities. Interaction can include facilitated discussion or other group interaction among at least two-thirds of the active students in the course (i.e., those students who have submitted their assignments on time), return of graded assignments with substantive feedback, instructor-facilitated group activities, or other instructor facilitated-active learning opportunities.

In online and blended courses, the exact amount of interaction depends on the size of the class and the length of the term. The minimum requirements for interaction are based on a 16-week term, and should be doubled for 8-week terms (see parenthetical explanation for 8-week terms).

Course Limit

Instructor-Student Interaction

25 or fewer students

Opportunities for substantive instructor and student interaction centered must occur at least every other week. (8-week classes: every week).

26-40 students

Opportunities for substantive instructor and student interaction centered should occur at least every third week. (8-week classes: every 10 days).

41-50 students

Opportunities for substantive instructor and student interaction centered should occur at least every month. (8-week classes: every two weeks).

Timeliness of Grading

To provide the optimum benefit from their instructors’ feedback, assignments should be graded and returned to students in a timely manner prior to the due date of subsequent assignments when those subsequent assignments require instructor feedback for successful completion.

Expectations for Distance Education Courses

Active Learning

Each course should have active learning activities/interactions to encourage students’ engagement through different interactions during the learning process. Types of interaction include learner-instructor, learner-learner, and learner-content. Active learning involves learners engaging by “doing” something, such as discovering, creating, or applying information and concepts. Active learning implies guiding learners to increasing levels of responsibility for their own learning (Quality Matters Rubric, fifth Edition, 2014). Instructional strategies that promote active learning produce levels of understanding, retention and transfer of knowledge greater than those resulting from traditional lecture/lab classes (Connor et al., 2014). Active learning encourages engagement, reinforces concepts and skills, fosters community of learners and creates a personal connection to the material (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 2006)

Learner-Instructor Active Learning

Activities for learner-instructor should include instructor participating in class discussions, instructor consistently providing individual feedback to students on their work, setting up online office hours, maintaining constant communication and monitoring learner progress rather than disappearing as the semester progresses.

Learner-Learner Active Learning

Learner-to-learner interaction is vital to building community in an online environment, and helps learners develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills (Kolloff, 2011). Activities may include assigned collaborative activities such as group discussions, small group projects, group problem-solving assignments or peer critiques.

Learner-Content Active Learning

The cognitive and/or perceptual contact between learners and the materials of study results in acquisition of meaning by learners (Liu & Kaye, 2016). Activities for learner-content interaction may include reading a textbook and completing activities, watching or listening to media, operating with equipment in labs.

Academic Integrity

SWOSU has adopted a Policy for Student Identity Verification in Distance Learning. Although authentication, randomization of quiz items, and online proctoring services may discourage academic misconduct, no completely foolproof method of ensuring the integrity of online assessments exists. Students must have information made available to them concerning course requirements such as travel to a proctoring site.

Student Technical Skills/Introduction to the LMS

Assessment of student technical skills and an introduction to the various skills needed in the course should be described in the Syllabus.

Examples would be:

  1. Quiz: taking a short quiz over the syllabus and other course documents,
  2. Discussion: Introduction discussion to build online course community,
  3. Online submission: example would be a paper containing the student’s name, advisor, a phone number they could be reached, etc.,
  4. Pre-test assessment.

Course Scaffolding

Course modules, assignments, and resource materials, once activated, should be left open through the entire course to allow students to review and reflect on previous materials. This does not mean that instructors must accept late assignments, merely that students should be able to review previous modules and learning activities.

Course Syllabi

All distance education courses should follow the official syllabi template pertaining to the specific distance education method of delivery. The template guidelines and examples are located in Faculty Commons in Canvas under the Course Development Module. All syllabus template sections should be included in the course syllabus.

Certification of Distance Instructors

  • In order to meet the requirements of membership in NC-SARA, SWOSU has instituted training for distance instructors for demonstrating compliance.
  • Distance faculty will be required to complete a one-hour online course “Certification of Instructors to Teach Distance Education Courses” in order to be certified to teach distance education courses. Once a faculty member has successfully completed the certification, they will be paid $30. This is a one-time payment for the time required to complete the course.

Certification of Course Developers

  • In order to comply with NC-SARA requirements and HLC policies, all distance courses offered at SWOSU must meet the distance education Course Development Rubric standards pertaining to the specific distance education method of delivery.
  • In order to develop distance education courses, faculty will be required to take the “Distance Education Rubric Training” course (approximately one-two hours). Once a faculty member has successfully completed the certification, they will be paid $150. This is a one-time payment for the time required to complete the course. This payment will be combined with the approval of the first distance education course rubric.
  • Once an instructor has successfully completed the “Distance Education Rubric Training” responsibility rests with the instructor to use the appropriate official syllabi template and complete a rubric for all distance education courses developed by that instructor.
  • Completed rubrics for all distance education courses will be on file in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. SWOSU rubrics ensure that the course meets the quality assurance standards of NC-SARA and HLC.

Course Ownership and Licensing

  • SWOSU Intellectual Property Policy contains three categories for faculty works; Works for Hire, Substantial Use of Resources, and Minimal Use of Resources. Relevant portions of that policy, including definitions, are attached at the end of this document.
  • Most distance courses fall into the category Minimal Use of Resources. Ownership and licensing of these courses remains with the course developer.
  • If the creation of the work meets the conditions described in IPP 3.02, the course falls into the Substantial Use of Resources category, and ownership remains with the course developer, but licensing rights are retained by SWOSU as long as the faculty member remains employed by the University.
  • If the University commissions the course, makes a written agreement (a Works for Hire Agreement form is currently used; in the past only a Pay Action form was used) with the course developer, and pays the developer for the course, the course falls under Works for Hire. Ownership remains with the developer, but the University retains a permanent license to use the course, whether or not the developer is employed at SWOSU.
  • After a course is developed, the IPP status cannot be changed, unless the course has either been significantly changed by the developer using Substantial Use of Resources, OR has been subsequently commissioned as Works for Hire by the University and approved by the developer, Chair, Dean, and Provost. In the case of Works for Hire, the Works for Hire Agreement form will need to be completed and approved and will result in appropriate stipend payment at that time.

Courses Commissioned as Works for Hire

When the University has a genuine need to own permanent license to a course, the development of the course may be commissioned as a Work for Hire. For example, the University may need to have licensing rights to courses that are part of a completely online program, and this includes General Education courses that are part of the online Associate of Science in General Studies program.

Faculty are asked to follow this procedure in order to get their Works for Hire course approved:

  1. Completion and Approval of the Works for Hire Agreement form, which will be filed in CETL, with electronic copies sent to developer, Chair, Associate Dean (if applicable) and Dean.
  2. Complete the appropriate course Rubric
  3. Submit the Rubric to the Department Chair/Associate Dean
  4. If the Chair approves the objectives and rigor, the Rubric is sent to distance@swosu.edu
  5. The Teaching and Learning Coordinators will review the course for rubric compliance.
  6. After course approval, the TLC coordinator forwards the rubric approval to the faculty member and the chair.
  7. Payment is issued to the developer in accordance with the Stipends for Distance Education Instructors and Developers.

Courses Not Commissioned as Works for Hire

Faculty are asked to follow this procedure in order to get their course approved:

  1. Submit the Rubric to the Department Chair/Associate Dean
  2. If the Chair approves the objectives and rigor, the Rubric is sent to distance@swosu.edu
  3. The Teaching and Learning Coordinators will review the course for rubric compliance.
  4. After course approval, the TLC coordinator forwards the rubric approval to the faculty member and the chair.
  5. Payment is issued to the developer in accordance with the Stipends for Distance Education Instructors and Developers.

Review for Significant Change

  • All distance education courses that have been previously approved will need to be reviewed annually by the course developers by completing the Significant Change Form to determine if significant changes have been made to the course.
  • Significant changes can be one or more of the following:
  • Changed textbook or revised course due to new textbook
  • Changed the majority of the course objectives
  • Changed the majority of the module objectives
  • Changed the majority of the learning activities/assignments to advance student learning or to incorporate new grading criteria/scheme
  • Added new instructional materials such as publisher supplemental online materials, videos, etc.
  • Changed active learning assignments and/or goals
  • If significant changes have been made to the course, the faculty member should submit a new course Rubric along with the Significant Change Form.
  • There is no limitation on the number of new rubrics submitted for evaluation resulting from significant changes.

Stipends for Distance Education Instructors and Developers

  • Works for Hire Course Development - $1,500
  • Other Stipends (apply to all courses regardless of Intellectual Property Category)
  • Rubric Stipend - $150
  • Certification of Instructor (one time pay) - $30
  • Rubric Training (one time pay) - $150

Archival of Distance Education Courses

As per SWOSU’s Intellectual Property Policy, if a faculty member is paid for development of an online course (Work(s) for Hire—IPP6.05A) or has created the course with substantial use of university resources (IPP 3.02/6.05B) the course is licensed by the University and will be archived for future delivery by a course facilitator.

References

Connor, K.A., Berry, F.C., & Newman., D.L. (2014). Using the mobile Studio to facilitate non-educational approaches to education and outreach. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of ASEE Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., & Smith, K.A. (12006). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction.

Kolloff, M. (2011). Strategies for effective student/student interaction in online courses. 17th annual conference on distance teaching and learning.

Liu, J.C., & Kaye, E.R. (2016). Preparing Online Learning Readiness with Learner-Content Interaction: Design for Scaffolding Self-Regulated Learning. In Handbook of Research on Strategic Management of Interaction, Presence, and Participation in Online Courses. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9582-5.ch009.

Quality Matters Rubric, fifth Edition, 2014 .

Appendix A

From SWOSU Intellectual Property Policy:

3.02 Substantial Use of University Resources

Intellectual Property that is not produced as a “work(s) for hire,” but is a work that is developed with integral and substantial use of funds, space, hardware, or facilities administered by a University component, where use is substantial rather than incidental, shall be owned by the University unless otherwise directed by this policy. Substantial use of University resources has occurred where the University has provided support for the creation of the work with resources of a degree or nature not routinely made available to faculty or non-faculty employees. Substantial use of University resources may include but is not limited to:

  1. Waiver of fees normally required to use specialized facilities such as equipment, production facilities, services laboratories, specialized computing resources and studios;
  2. Institutional funding or gifts in support of the work’s creation; and
  3. Reduction in levels of teaching, service or other typical University activities (e.g.; course load, student advising responsibilities, division/department meetings, office hours, administrative responsibilities).

Ordinary or limited use of computers, laboratory space, libraries, office space or equipment, routine secretarial services at routine levels, telephones and other informational resources shall not be considered as substantial use of University resources.

The University does not claim rights in intellectual properties for which no equipment, supplies, facilities or proprietary information was used and which was developed entirely on the employee’s own time.

3.03 Work(s) for Hire

The University shall retain ownership of intellectual property created as institutional rather than personal efforts, which is, created for institutional purposes in the course of the creators’ employment, including but not limited to simultaneous or sequential contributions over time by numerous faculty, staff or students. For instance, work assigned to programmers is institutional work or “work(s) for hire” as defined by law, as is software developed for University purposes by staff working collaboratively.

Institutional works are works commissioned by the university and include but are not limited to: brochures, training programs, CD-ROMs, videos, and manuals that staff members are hired to develop. Works created by staff on their own time are not “work(s) for hire.” If the University so chooses, it may release a “work(s) for hire” back to the staff member who created it. Works commissioned by external sources are not Works for Hire unless substantial university resources are used to produce the intellectual property.

6.0 On-Line or Web-Based Intellectual Properties

Southwestern Oklahoma State University encourages its faculty and administration to engage in scholarly activities during the academic year as a part of their university responsibilities. Such scholarly activity would include the creation of On-Line teaching materials and Web-Based teaching methods. This type of instruction is an emerging area that Southwestern Oklahoma State University embraces and supports as new technology creates an opportunity for distance education for current and future students of SWOSU. While faculty engage in this type of teaching activity and creation, the University will strive to protect the work-product of its faculty and other personnel, which are prepared for class use either on-site or via an electronic format.

Universities were alerted to the necessity to enact protection of the administration and faculty for scholarly work by the 1980 enactment of P.L. 96-517, The Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, more commonly known as the Bayh-Dole Act, and amendments included in P.L. 98-620, enacted into law in 1984.

6.01 Definitions

  1. Web-based (asynchronous)
    Web-based, also referred to as asynchronous or on-line courses occur independent of time or location and are often known as courses available anytime and anyplace. These courses are delivered over the web. Web-based courses may be locally produced, purchased or contracted.
  2. ITV or Web Video (synchronous)
    ITV courses (Interactive Television) or Web Video are synchronous courses that originate in a real time classroom environment and are narrow cast to select receive site locations. These courses allow the student to interact with the instructor and other students in a real time environment from location to location.
  3. Blended (synchronous and asynchronous)
    Blended courses usually have elements of both synchronous and asynchronous courses with ITV or face to face teaching and web-based segments. Depending on what best suits the subject and the audience, these courses typically use the best of both methods in delivering content.

6.02 Distance Education

All Distance Education courses are considered “regular” courses and are transcripted without any reference to delivery mode. All students enrolled are considered as resident students to that course regardless of location.

6.03 Copyright Assignment

The general rule for copyrighted materials is that the creator holds exclusive rights at the time of creation, unless it is assigned to another owner, either wholly or jointly. Registering the copyright with the Federal Government Copyright Office is another matter. (See Section 5.0.)

6.04 Determination of Specific Compensation

Resource and time requirements for development of courses vary as a function of the specifics of the offering, availability of related materials and course format.

  1. Synchronous Format
    Distance Education instructors teaching synchronous courses are not compensated for course development.
  2. Asynchronous and Blended Formats
    Distance Education instructors may be compensated for developing either asynchronous or blended courses. Compensation is based on the SWOSU Policy for Distance Education. Departments may also wish to contribute additional compensation from their own budgets.

6.05 Ownership and Licensing of On-Line and Web-Based Course Materials

The University IPC will determine Ownership (copyright holder) and/or Licensing, which, in turn, will depend upon the circumstances of the development. For example:

Course Development Level

Ownership

Licensing

A. Work(s) for hire

Creator

University

B. With substatial use of university resources

Creator

University

C. With minimal use of university resources

Creator

Creator

  1. If the On-Line or Web-Based course is a work for hire where the University specifically directs its creation and provides materials, time, or monetary compensation to the creator to develop the materials, ownership will be retained by the creator. The University will retain a right to license the work product from the creator at no cost to the University. If the On-Line or Web-Based course is developed under the support of a state, federal or private grant, as a work(s) for hire, ownership of the materials developed will reside with the creator. Again, the University will retain the right to license the work product from the creator at no cost to the University.

    With regards to the creation of an On-Line or Web-Based course by a faculty member, a “work for hire” is defined as work “above and beyond the scope of normal duties” which is compensated by the University through an agreement that is separate from the faculty member’s on-going contracted position as a University faculty member.
  2. If the On-Line or Web-Based course creator uses substantial University resources (as defined in section 3 of the SWOSU Intellectual Property Policy), then the creator retains ownership; however, the University maintains a royalty-free license to use and distribute the material while the creator is employed by the University.
  3. As the acceptance of substantial university resources results in the loss of licensing control of copyrighted material (the On-Line or Web-Based course), a faculty member may, without penalty, refuse the offer of substantial university resources (and thus maintain their licensing rights) while proceeding to develop the course.
  4. Similarly, the University may choose to transfer the On-Line or Web-Based course development offer to another faculty member, or a qualified external course developer, if the University chooses to obtain licensing rights.
  5. The IPC will enter into negotiation with the creator to determine the percentage distribution of any royalties due from the University’s licensing of the course to an external entity.
  6. If the On-Line or Web-Based course creator uses minimal university resources, then the creator maintains ownership and licensing of the course.
  7. When works are created while in the employ of the University, situations may arise where there is a conflict of interest between the creator and the University. In the event the creator considers the sale, lease, or other use of courseware or material by an outside party in a manner that competes with the offerings of the University, the creator first must enter into negotiations with the IPC before actuating any agreements. These negotiations will ensure the University is reimbursed expenses for courseware creation, and the IPC will determine if compensation for royalties derived from the courseware or materials is due the University.

Manuscripts created for web pages and On-Line courses, web sites, music posted on websites, voice (lectures, etc.), videos streamed on the web, electronic presentations, whether registered with the Copyright Office or not, are all property of the copyright holder as defined in this policy and are subject to the provisions of the Federal Copyright laws and the fair use doctrine.

Adopted: February, 2004

The Southwestern Oklahoma State University Intellectual Property Policy has been approved by the SWOSU Intellectual Property Faculty Committee and SWOSU Provost’s Office.

Revised: September, 2009

The revised Southwestern Oklahoma State University Intellectual Property Policy has been approved by the SWOSU Intellectual Property Faculty Committee, SWOSU Provost, and SWOSU President.

Revised: December, 2016

The revised Southwestern Oklahoma State University Intellectual Property Policy has been approved by the SWOSU Intellectual Property Faculty Committee, SWOSU Provost, and SWOSU President.