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Distance Education Policies

Distance Education and Related Policies

Texas State University Policy and Procedure Statements

UPPS 01.04.27 Intellectual Property: Ownership and Use of Copyrighted Works addresses copyright ownership, faculty responsibilities, course development, revision rights, royalties, using Texas State’s name, and the creation, use, and distribution of electronic course materials.

UPPS 01.04.31 Access to Student Records Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 details expectations and rules regarding privacy and access to student education records as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

UPPS 04.01.01 Security of Texas State Information Resources describes how all members of the university community, regardless of position or role, share responsibility for protecting the university’s information resources against accidental or unauthorized disclosure, contamination, modification, or destruction and for assuring the confidentiality, authenticity, utility, integrity, and availability of university information.

UPPS 04.01.07 Appropriate Use of Information Resources establishes policies and procedures for the appropriate use of information resources in order to achieve university-wide compliance with applicable statutes, regulations, and mandates, establish prudent and acceptable practices regarding the use of information resources, and educate individuals about the responsibilities they assume when using Texas State’s information resources

Academic Affairs Policy and Procedure Statements

PPS 2.16 Academic Programs: Distance Education & Off-Campus Instruction provides the process for creating new online or electronic courses. It also summarizes the process of online or electronic course development and provides guidance for the preparation of proposals for new electronic and online degree and certificate programs.

PPS 4.05 Maintenance and Improvement of Quality in Teaching establishes that the university must ascertain that the highest quality of teaching is met. The university does so by awarding faculty who demonstrate excellence in education, evaluating teaching, and providing training for faculty to improve their pedagogy. Additionally, PPS 4.05 requires that distance education faculty complete (a) a professional development program approved by the Distance and Extended Learning Steering Committee prior to teaching at a distance and (b) a self-assessment of assigned distance courses every three years using the university’s Best Practices Checklist rubric.

PPS 4.11 Instructional Contact Time and Academic Credit documents Texas State's practices for determining and awarding credit hours for student work. A credit hour is defined as the amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is obtained through a minimum of one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks a semester.  

The primary responsibility for the development and implementation of courses at Texas State rests with the faculty member who is teaching the course. Texas State supports the use of TRACS course sites for all courses, including those categorized as fully online or hybrid. It is the faculty member’s responsibility to populate the TRACS site with course documents, resources, discussion boards, grading criteria, and other features. Direct instruction is often implemented via on-campus meetings, instructor-led asynchronous or synchronous online learning activities, computer-assisted lectures and lessons, multimedia interaction, discussions, and/or engagement for exams/quizzes/assessments as documented in the course syllabus. All online and hybrid courses are reviewed for nationally accepted standards for online learning via the Best Practices Checklist discussed below. 

Best Practices Checklist

The Best Practices Checklist is a self-study based on the Principles of Good Practice for Academic Degree and Certificate Programs and Credit Courses Offered Electronically, as well as on established quality measures for electronically delivered courses affirmed by the Sloan Consortium, Quality Matters, THECB, and The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Checklist is required for all electronic and online courses and serves as an agreement between the university and instructors that the highest quality electronic or online instructional materials are delivered to students.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is the accrediting agency responsible for “the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. The Commission’s mission is the enhancement of educational quality throughout the region and the improvement of the effectiveness of institutions by ensuring that they meet standards established by the higher education community that address the needs of society and students.” Texas State University complies with SACSCOC policies for teaching an online or hybrid course.

State of Texas Policies

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is a coordinating and leadership board dedicated to quality in higher education, which maintains state policies and procedures for distance education. THECB “encourages the development of online courses and programs that enhance access to higher education throughout the state of Texas. The Coordinating Board works closely with Texas colleges and universities ... to ensure the high quality of distance education. To that end, all public institutions are required to certify that their distance education programs are in compliance with the Principles of Good Practice.”

Steering Committee

The Distance and Extended Learning Steering Committee is a divisional committee of the Provost and Academic Affairs. The function of the committee is to develop policy, procedure, and practice guidelines to promote distance-learning initiatives, facilitate student services for distance learners, and promote distance-learning programs and course proposals as appropriate to meet campus needs. Its members represent a cross-section of key stakeholders in distance and extended learning at Texas State.