Distance Education Definitions

Andrews University definitions of distance education are based on the 2009 federal distance education definitions and the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission definitions of distance education.

Distance Education Programs are defined by the total package delivery of learning experiences included in the degree. Distance education includes any learning experiences that are not located at any Andrews campus, such as online courses, dissertations, independent studies, clinicals, etc. Distance programs have limited learning time on campus.

Distance Education Courses are defined by the NCA-HLC Definition: “Distance-delivered courses are those in which all or the vast majority (typically 75% or more) of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication, correspondence, or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other.”

Andrews University offers three types of distance education course formats:

  • Self-paced courses are offered where instructional materials and examinations are provided by mail or electronic transmission to students who are separated from the instructor. Interaction between the instructor and the student is limited and is primarily initiated by the student. Self-paced courses may be delivered via paper; via electronic means such as email or a learning management system, or via DVDs, podcasts, streaming or similar one-way media transmission. (This definition aligns with the federal definition for correspondence courses.)
  • Interactive online courses use the Internet to deliver instruction to students who are separate from the instructor. Interactive online courses use the Internet to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor. This regular substantive interaction includes a significant amount of interaction initiated by the instructor. Interactive online courses may use synchronous (real-time) meetings, or an asynchronous paced format. Technologies may include: The Internet, satellite or room-based videoconferencing, web-conferencing, audio-conferencing, or web-based videoconferencing. DVDs, podcasts, streaming and similar one way media may be used only if they are used in conjunction with another technology that facilitates regular and substantive interaction between students and the instructor. (This aligns with the federal definition for distance education.)
  • Blended learning courses include some time where the faculty and students are physically separated from each other and additional time where the faculty and students are in the same location. Blended learning scenarios include a face-to-face class that has reduced face-to-face time replaced with extended online assignments or a short intense face-to-face time supplemented with online learning activities. The blended learning course format uses the online activities to ensure that the course meets the credit hour definition requirements. The online portion of this type of course must meet the description of interactive online courses listed above. (This aligns with the federal definition for distance education.)


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