In distance education (more commonly called online or hybrid), the instruction (interaction between students and instructor, and among students) occurs when students and the instructor are not in the same place. Both SACSCOC and SCHEV have specific definitions of distance education and how it is tracked by the institution.
Longwood’s policy of online and hybrid teaching and learning in the Faculty Policies and Procedures Manual (found on the Faculty Senate website) reflects the requirements of SACSCOC and SCHEV. Longwood defines an online class as one in which 100% of physical class meetings are replaced with electronic interaction, and a hybrid class as one in which at least 50% but less than 100% of physical class meetings are replaced with electronic interaction. In order to be an online or hybrid instructor, faculty are required to become certified in online instruction. See the Longwood Online Technology Institute (LOTI) website for more information about training. For other questions regarding online and hybrid instruction, visit the Digital Education Collaborative website.
Longwood is authorized by SACSCOC to offer 50% or more of an academic program via distance education. For SACSCOC reaffirmation and the Fifth-Year Interim Report, Longwood must document details about its programs which are delivered 50% or more via distance education. Changes to modality of a program (e.g., a face-to-face program adds a distance education delivery option) is a substantive change; submission of the Academic Initiatives Planning Checklist should occur.
Longwood participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) for delivery of distance education to students domiciled in other participating states. SCHEV has oversight for all participating institutions in Virginia, including resolving complaints from students taking distance education under the aegis of SARA. As part of its membership in SARA, Longwood agrees to abide by the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education.
It is important to note that SACSCOC expects online and hybrid courses and programs to comply with the same standards as any educational program (see the SACSOC policy statement on Distance and Correspondence Education). These include assessment of student learning, demonstrating that the credit awarded is equivalent to the comparable face-to-face course, providing access to library and academic support services, and faculty credentials. There are also specific federal requirements related to verifying the identity and protecting the privacy of students enrolled in online or hybrid courses. See, for example, Longwood’s Policy 1006 Distance Education Student Privacy.