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Policy on Distance Education (2002; Revised 2006)

Introduction

The Policy Committee’s chief concern is with the quality of the education that our students receive. The growth of the internet and world-wide web makes available tools that can enrich and enhance courses taught within the College. The ability to put courses on the web has also raised the profile of courses taught in a non-traditional way, specifically distance education, including correspondence courses. These developments are both exciting and cause for some concern. The Policy Committee finds considerable merit in the points raised in the June 13, 2001 symposium held by the Bloomington Faculty Council on distributed education (http://www.indiana.edu/~bfc/). We endorse the position that our students should have direct contact with their instructors and peers. Related distance education guidelines were approved by the College Committee on Undergraduate Education on March 19, 2002 (college.indiana.edu/faculty/cue/min031902.shtml ).

Quality Control

Web-based courses available for College credit must be subject to the same stringent quality control applied to conventional courses with regard to content, review procedure for new courses, teaching evaluations, information about grade distributions and number of students completing the course, and peer review including "virtual visits."

Web-Based Courses and Degree Requirements

Indiana University Bloomington is a residential campus, and College students will NOT be permitted to count correspondence and distributed education courses, which are primarily meant for nonresident and Continuing Studies students. These courses will not count towards the 122 minimum hours or degree requirements needed for graduation in the College of Arts and Sciences unless prior permission is granted by an Academic Dean in consultation with the affected departments. Such permission will be granted only in response to exceptional circumstances (e.g., illness, military service). Even in such specially approved cases, no more than two courses will count towards graduation.

Recommendations Regarding Web-Based Courses

The College Policy Committee is hesitant to prescribe specifics concerning the development of new web-based courses by College faculty, given the rapid developments in this area. College faculty developing such courses should be encouraged to work with the Teaching and Learning Technologies Centers (TLTC) to implement courses on the web while keeping control of content. The College must work with other campus or system units to address issues such as ownership, revenue streams, and the most efficient delivery system that also insures quality control.

Recommendations Regarding Use of Web-Based Tools for Enrichment

In the development of courses within the College, we are very much in favor of making use of all available technologies, especially electronic means, to enrich the educational experience of our students. Most of us make use of e-mail to contact students. Many faculty members use Oncourse, online quizzes, electronic discussions, web-based demonstrations, and so forth to enrich student learning. Indeed, many of these actually increase the contact between instructor and student. We encourage the continued development of such electronic aids and encourage faculty to avail themselves of the support and resources provided by the College.