The relevant definitions included below are those used by the Higher Learning Commission (the agency that accredits UW–Madison) and the U.S. Department of Education.
(1) Education provided through one or more courses by an institution under which the institution provides instructional materials, by mail or electronic transmission, including examinations on the materials, to students who are separated from the instructor. (2) Interaction between the instructor and the student is not regular and substantive, and is primarily initiated by the student. (3) Correspondence courses are typically self-paced. (4) Correspondence education is not distance education.
At the current time, UW–Madison has no recorded correspondence education and is not approved to deliver correspondence education by the Higher Learning Commission. Knowledge of any such activity should be reported to the director of Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR).
The Higher Learning Commission (the agency that accredits UW–Madison) and federal regulations require that institutions have records of distance-education courses (numbers of courses, enrollment counts, credit counts), and distance-education programs (lists of programs and enrollment numbers). In addition, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement and state authorization laws in most states require that institutions be able to report distance education students by their state where they are living while they are enrolled. UW System Administration has approval and reporting requirements for distance-education programs (refer to UW System Administrative Policy 102). The provisions described in this policy are to ensure UW–Madison is able to meet these requirements.
Courses are approved based on academic content. The mode of instructional delivery (classroom instruction, online/some classroom, distance-delivered) is not currently a component of the proposal for a new course.
When courses are entered in the Schedule of Classes, each course section must be labeled with the relevant “instructional mode” to accurately represent the course’s delivery mechanism. The reliable use of “instructional mode” is essential so that courses that are distance-delivered can be identified by students, and also meet mandated reporting. Currently, there are three instructional modes:
For questions about the course proposal process, contact Academic Planning and Institutional Research or see the course approval guidelines.
For information about how to use the “instructional mode,” contact Curricular Services, Office of the Registrar.
Currently (spring 2018), no special approval is required to offer a course in any of the available “instructional modes.” Courses offered in any instructional mode must meet standards for delivery including sufficient staffing, support services, access to appropriate laboratory and library resources, and processes for ongoing planning, evaluation, and improvement.
All distance-delivered academic programs require institutional and UW System approval. A formal record of these programs is required for reporting to UW System Administration, reporting to the Higher Learning Commission, and meeting U.S. Department of Education regulations.
For more information, contact the Director of Academic Planning and Institutional Research or visit the Academic Planning website.
If a new degree/major program is to be delivered through distance education, it goes through the regular new-program approval process. Distance-delivery features are approved in the context of the full program approval.
If an existing degree/major is to be offered as a distance-education program in addition to being offered in a traditional, residential format, then a proposal must be advanced for a formal named option. This is required for any program that will be delivered more than 50% as a distance program. The percentage of the program that is distance delivered should be indicated on the named option proposal. The option will provide a mechanism to communicate to students the nature of the program. It will also allow us to identify the students separately from those in the traditional residential program and thus meet mandated institutional reporting on distance education programs.
For information on proposals for named options, visit the Academic Planning website.
Degree/major programs adding named options that can be completed 100% via distance education require additional information for UW System Administration approval. Attach the following information to the named option proposal (limit two pages):
Academic Planning and Institutional Research or the Provost's Office will circulate the proposed addendum to all UW System provosts with a notice for comment. The other UW provosts have 10 working days to respond in writing with any concerns. If no concerns are raised, UW System Administration will issue an approval memo within 15 working days after the end of the provosts’ review. If there are institutional or system-wide concerns, UW System Administration will determine the appropriate manner in which to proceed and will issue an approval or denial memo in an expeditious manner.
Degree/major programs adding named options that can be completed more than 50% but less than 100% via distance education require additional information for UW System Administration approval. Academic Planning and Institutional Research or the Provost's Office provides the following information to UW System Administration:
UW System Administration will issue the notification memo of approval within 15 working days after receipt of the information.
A new certificate program that will be offered as a distance-delivered program or a certificate that is changing entirely to distance-delivery should complete the certificate proposal form and go through the regular institutional approval process. UW System Administration approval is not required. For proposals for a change in delivery mode by existing certificates, the expectation is that the approval will be straightforward and focused on considerations associated with delivering a quality program in the new mode of delivery.
For additional information on certificates, visit the Certificate Programs website.
UW–Madison faculty policy, as well as System/Regent policy and accreditation criteria, require regular program review, including a review of new programs at the five-year mark and at least once every 10 years thereafter. Units proposing new programs will need to be up-to-date on assessment and program review. Programs that are over-due for review will be required to complete a review before conversion is approved.
UW System Administrative Policy 102, Policy on University of Wisconsin System Array Management: Program Planning, Delivery, Review, and Reporting
03-01-2013, 04-01-2013, 10-01-2015, 01-01-2018