Guidelines to assure the highest educational quality for such distributed learning.

Policy Statement

The purpose of the Distance Learning Policy is to provide guidance for students, faculty and staff regarding the design, development, delivery and evaluation of distance learning at Adelphi University. The policy is grounded in best practices for distance learning in higher education and incorporates appropriate regulatory and accreditation considerations. Ultimately, the Distance Learning Policy is intended to promote excellent distance learning educational experiences and institutional support for Adelphi students and faculty.

Reason for Policy

Distance learning has become increasingly prominent in higher education. Done well, it expands access to education for those who otherwise could not join a traditional classroom setting because of geographic distance. It also provides flexibility for both students and faculty in terms of course scheduling. Equally important, it exposes students to information literacy and technology skills that are essential for today’s technology-driven world. It also stimulates opportunities for faculty development and professional growth.

While Adelphi University values the small and intimate face-to-face classroom environment that has been its educational signature for more than one hundred years, it must at the same time judiciously develop high-quality instructional opportunities to meet the needs of the diverse student population it serves.

Whether distance learning is incorporated in a traditional class setting or delivered in place of it, well-designed instruction must be at the core of course and program offerings. Not all disciplines or all types of instruction will employ technology-enhanced curricula in the same manner. Nonetheless, some common guidelines are important to assure the highest educational quality for such distributed learning. The elements of this policy are established to guarantee that Adelphi University continues to provide excellent educational experiences for both students and faculty.

Who Is Governed by this Policy

Faculty, Staff, and Students


Definition of Distance Learning

Adelphi University recognizes Distance Learning, also called distance education, e-learning, and online learning, as “a form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication.” (Berg, Gary A. and Simonson, Michael. “distance learning”. Encyclopedia Britannica, Invalid Date, Accessed 10 July 2023.)

Definitions for Distance Learning Courses at Adelphi

Adelphi currently recognizes three formats for Distance Learning courses:

  • Hybrid or blended, where 30% to 79% of the instruction is conducted online via Adelphi University’s learning management system. The remainder of the instruction is provided in a traditional face-to-face modality. Although the online component is typically asynchronous, it may be synchronous.
  • Hyflex, in which students are assigned to attend in-person or live streamed sessions as a reduced-size cohort on a rotating basis; live sessions are also recorded, offering students the option to participate synchronously or view asynchronously as needed.
  • Online, in which there are few or no traditional on-site, face-to-face meetings (80% or more online—synchronous or asynchronous) and the course is hosted on the web via the Adelphi learning management system.

Definition for Distance Learning Program at Adelphi

Adelphi adheres to federal and New York State regulations, as well as its institutional accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, that define any program that offers 50% or more of its instruction online as a Distance Education Program. Additionally, Adelphi participates in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), a private nonprofit organization [501(c)(3)] that helps expand students’ access to educational opportunities and ensure more efficient, consistent, and effective regulation of distance education programs and abides by the 21st Century Distance Education Guidelines. (See Related Information below)

The U.S. Department of Education issued Final Rules on Distance Education and Innovation in September 2020, with the rules going into effect on July 1, 2021. The regulations update the definitions of distance and correspondence education with the intent to provide more clarity on the differences between these two modes of course delivery. The U.S. Department of Education requires that all online courses for which students may use Title IV funds (federal financial aid) include regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between students and instructors. In short, regular and substantive interaction is one of the key elements distinguishing distance education from correspondence education and thus one of the central determinants for students’ ability to use Title IV funds.

Other critical factors distinguishing distance education from correspondence education are as follows:

  • Distance education should be delivered through an appropriate form of online media.
  • Distance education must use an instructor or instructors that meet accreditor requirements for instruction in the subject matter.
  • There should be at least two forms of substantive interaction between instructor and students. (See Related Information below)
  • There must be “scheduled and predictable” opportunities for instructor/student interaction.
  • Instructors “must be responsive to students’ requests for support” (U.S. Department of Education Issues Final Rules on Distance Education and Innovation | NC-SARA, 2020).


Principles for Distance Learning at Adelphi

Adelphi University is committed to providing instruction and programs that meet the diverse learning needs of our students. Expanded instructional opportunities capture new markets by introducing new certificate, degree and continuing education programs. Distance Learning presents rich opportunities by providing students in selected programs more flexibility in scheduling and enhances existing courses by blending traditional classroom and asynchronous approaches in courses, allowing students to work more independently. All of these activities will enhance our students’ skills in using new technology and learning with technology.

The following principles underlie Adelphi’s policy on Distance Learning:

  • The faculty is ultimately responsible for the integrity of distance learning content and delivery.
  • Faculty are not required to teach in a distance learning format.
  • Curriculum developed for distance learning needs to fit the format. To present course or program offerings in a distributed manner, there has to be a defensible rationale.
  • There is an administrative commitment to distance instruction, including extensive technical support for users. Students enrolled in distance learning courses/programs receive the appropriate student and academic services.
  • Regular training for our students in web-based utilities is essential for the University to be successful in employing instructional technologies.
  • Extensive faculty training in distance learning is available through the Faculty Center for Professional Excellence (FCPE).
  • Distance learning requires online availability of journals and library databases.
  • Information literacy tutorials can be accessed online.
  • Optimum class size depends upon the activities in the course. Maximum class size for asynchronous online courses is 25 students.
  • All distance learning courses and programs will be assessed for effectiveness in terms of student experience and outcomes and the degree to which learning goals have been met.

Distance Learning Guidelines and Procedures

1. Academic Guidelines

1.1 Calendar and Course Credits

1.1.1 Courses will be offered according to the general AU academic calendar. Courses are offered on a semester calendar; however, if appropriate, shorter cycles are permitted with the permission of the Provost’s Office. Continuing education offerings are not subject to the University’s academic calendar.

1.1.2 Final examinations will be scheduled according to the designated examination period for the semester or cycle, unless otherwise approved by the Provost’s Office.

1.2 Course Integrity

1.2.1 All standard Adelphi policies apply to faculty and students in distance learning classes, as in traditional face to face courses. Any policies that are required to be listed on standard Adelphi syllabi should likewise be listed on distance learning syllabi, including, but not limited to:

1.2.2 Courses will reflect good practices to meet the interregional guidelines (C-RAC) relating to distance education (see Related Information below).

1.2.3 Distance education courses will include opportunities for regular and substantive interactions between faculty and students and among students (See 1.5.1).

1.2.4. References to personal traits such as race, ethnicity, disabilities, age, and gender may be made public only when a student initiates the action to do so.

1.2.5 The program faculty member is responsible for the quality of all program curricula. As such, it is the faculty’s responsible to ensure the integrity of the distance learning offerings.

1.3 Curriculum Approval Process

1.3.1 New Courses: New courses must be approved by the unit curriculum committee and Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Affairs.

1.3.2 New Programs: New programs must be approved by the unit curriculum committee, Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Affairs, Faculty Senate, Provost, President, Board of Trustees, and New York State Education Department.

1.3.3 Existing Courses: Online presentation of a course is deemed an alternative presentation mode and subject to the approval of the department/chair and dean if it employs the syllabus of the approved face-to-face course. Substantive changes in content should be approved by the unit curriculum committee.

1.3.4 Faculty members must identify their course sections as either “Online” (O)or “Blended” (B) on the course planning form. This is IMPORTANT because this will affect how the course section is identified on course registration forms (e.g. Section Name, Course and Section Number. Semester, section format indication — “Online” or “Blended”) and will inform students of the presentation modality before they enroll. This will also enable a link in C.L.A.S.S. to the online student tutorial, “Is Online Learning Right for You.”

1.4 Course Platform and Presentation Requirements

1.4.1 Course Platform: All online courses and curricula must use the Adelphi University supported course management system (currently Moodle).

1.4.2 Course Presentation: All online courses and curricula presented as part of University sponsored distance learning will reflect best practices in terms of course organization and design. Examples are available for consideration.

Access to online course environments will be restricted to the instructor and registered students. Should the instructor wish to invite a guest from outside the Adelphi community to participate they should contact the IT department to arrange for temporary access. Final grades are submitted via the C.L.A.S.S. system.

The University will provide reasonable accommodations for disabled students and comply with Web Accessibility Initiative Standards. As with students enrolled in traditional courses, students with disabilities may register with the Student Access Office,which assists in providing accommodations when appropriate.

1.5 Compliance with New York State and Middle States Commission on Higher Education Standards

1.5.1 Distance instruction at Adelphi must meet the guidelines set by the New York State Education Department and the interregional accrediting agencies, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (see Related Information).

1.5.2 Two organizations that set standards and best practices for online teaching and learning include the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and Quality Matters. The FCPE will guide faculty to these resources as appropriate.

1.5 Student Performance Assessment

In specific cases student work may be utilized to serve a larger assessment such as for program or student learning assessment or accreditation purposes. Such assessments will vary by school and instructors should confer with department chairs and program directors about whether student’s work is subject to such assessment.

2. Faculty

2.1 Faculty Obligations

2.1.1 Faculty obligations are consistent with those identified in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Board of Trustees of Adelphi University and the AAUP.

2.1.2 Faculty performance will be evaluated in accordance with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Board of Trustees of Adelphi University and the AAUP.

2.1.3 The University’s standard Course Evaluation Form will be provided via a link online within Moodle courses. Additional questions specific to the course modality may be added to the online course evaluation form.

2.1.4 A faculty member teaching a distance learning course shall conduct the normally expected number of office hours. These office hours can be conducted online. When conducting on-line office hours, faculty members are not required to be present on campus.

2.1.5 Faculty are not compelled to teach in any distance learning format. In cases of campus closure or other emergency, please see Emergency Closing Policy.

2.2 Faculty Preparation

2.2.1 The appropriate academic administrator (e.g., chair, director, dean) is responsible for ensuring that the course developer and/or instructor has the necessary skills to develop and/or teach online curriculum.

2.2.2 Faculty who teach in distance learning modalities must acquire competency in online pedagogies and the use of the appropriate technologies. Training is offered by the University through the FCPE. Upon the start of the course, the instructor should possess the following qualifications:

2.2.2.a. Technology

  • Ability to post materials in Moodle: embedded as attachments and in form of links;
  • Ability to create and manage a discussion forum in Moodle;
  • Ability to create and administer surveys, quizzes and/or tests in Moodle;
  • Ability to publish students grades via the Moodle grade book;
  • Ability to guide students through the online course environment;
  • Ability to coordinate the installation of necessary “plug-ins” for the course;
  • Knowledge of commonly accessible file formats and how to save them;
  • Ability to resize graphics so they can be easily viewed in Moodle;
  • Knowledge of how to make an e-reserve available via the library’s web pages;
  • Awareness of options for how to provide material in a manner accessible to students with disabilities.

2.2.2.b Online Course Design and Faculty Responsibilities

  • Faculty should have an understanding of the different strategies needed for teaching online vs. teaching face-to-face.
  • Faculty should have knowledge of strategies to engage the online learner and create effective online learning activities.
  • Faculty should be familiar with the rights and limitations of the TEACH Act and Fair Use in higher education.
  • Faculty are responsible for following copyright requirements in the development or revision of distance learning materials.
  • Faculty are responsible for certifying that all work presented is a product of their efforts and that no plagiarism or unauthorized use exists.

2.3 Faculty Compensation and Course Ownership

In all cases, any exceptions to the policies below will be agreed upon in writing prior to the start of the course.

2.3.1 Faculty Workload

  1. Unless otherwise agreed to by the University and the faculty member and specified in writing, the assignment of the course will be covered under faculty workload or overload and subject to the same compensation as stated in the collective bargaining agreement.
  2. Unless otherwise agreed to by the University and the faculty member and specified in writing, the development of the distance learning curricula will be considered as part of the faculty obligation, as is the case with traditional face-to-face course development.
  3. Maximum student enrollment (not to exceed 25 students, as previously stated) will be determined by the content and level of student- faculty interaction in the course. However, as with all courses at the University, maximum student enrollment will be recommended by the department/program chair/ director or Dean and agreed upon by the Provost.

2.3.2 Course Ownership

  1. A Course/curriculum that is developed by a faculty member as part of normal workload or overload is owned by the faculty member. (See Copyrights policy). Permission for the University to use the course must be secured in writing from the faculty developer.
  2. Ownership of a course/curriculum developed by a faculty member as part of normal workload or overload, but compensated by additional stipend, is subject to written agreement between the University and the course developer.
  3. Ownership of a course/curriculum developed under a “Work for Hire” contract is subject to written agreement between the University and the course developer.

2.3.3 Development of Non-Credit, Continuing Education Courses

The development of non-credit, continuing education courses will be accomplished exclusively by means of a “Work for Hire” agreement. The fees for development of such courses will be agreed upon by the University and the course developer and specified in writing.

3. Student Course Administration

3.1 Student Enrollment Procedures

3.1.1 Students will be automatically entered into the online course at the start of the semester, with late “adds” loaded daily thereafter.

3.1.2 Grade book activity for students who have withdrawn from a course will not be deleted.

3.1.3 For students who have withdrawn from a course, for which there are no grade book activities, the instructors will remove the student from the course.

3.1.4 Students will no longer have access to the Moodle course beginning 14 days after the last day of classes for the semester.

3.2 Student Transcripts

3.2.1 Transcripts will be handled as with traditional face-to-face courses.

3.2.2 Transcripts will not reflect the modality of courses.

3.3 Student Admission Standards

3.3.1 Pre-requisites and admission standards for the course or program will be decided by department/program faculty, and clearly stated in the course schedule and CLASS system.

3.4 Student Training

3.4.1 Adelphi University shall provide adequate support services for the students participating in distance learning courses, including necessary equipment, personnel and training and an optional Technology Competency Certificate Program.

3.4.2 Student tutorials are available for online use in preparation for taking a course that employs distance learning technology.

4. University Resources

4.1 Faculty Training and Support

Adelphi University shall provide adequate support for the faculty teaching distance learning courses. The University provides significant support through the course design and instructional technology support professionals at the FCPE. These services are freely available to all faculty. Training opportunities are offered in both group workshop and individual sessions on topics and applications of instructional technology and related pedagogy.

The FCPE specializes in faculty support, instructional applications and pedagogical issues involving technology. For hours of operation, available resources, and contact information, please see the FCPE website. The Center’s Distance Learning Support Site contains a wide range of resources for teaching online and blended courses in addition to workshop and seminar training schedules.

4.1.1 When requested, the FCPE will facilitate peer liaison with other Adelphi faculty for discussions of subject-specific, teaching, or technology aspects of course development.

4.2 Technology Support

Adelphi University shall provide the necessary equipment, training and personnel for technology support. Adelphi University employs the Office of Information Technology (IT) to support the University with administrative systems, equipment maintenance and general user support for Moodle and other applications.

Students and faculty requiring assistance with Moodle or other technologies should contact Tech Support for assistance in person, via telephone, or via email.

4.2.1 In the event that servers are down, inaccessible or degraded, email or phone messages will be sent to the Adelphi community impacted.

4.3 Library Support

The Adelphi University Libraries play an integral role in the instructional, research, cultural, and student life programs of the University by providing high quality library and information facilities, resources, technology, and services in consonance with the mission and vision of the University. The Libraries serve all members of the Adelphi community representing diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds as well as a wide range of academic disciplines. Access is offered to a comprehensive variety of resources and collections that support Adelphi’s curriculum and information needs. The Libraries support and promote information literacy by teaching members of the Adelphi community to find and evaluate information effectively and to incorporate it ethically in pursuit of their academic, professional, and personal endeavors. The Adelphi University Libraries specifically support distance instruction by providing:

  • Remote access to databases and electronic journals.
  • Electronic reserve for course related materials.
  • Web-based tutorials for basic information literacy for research.
  • Telephone and live chat reference assistance.
  • Interlibrary loan of articles for delivery via e-mail.
  • Interlibrary loan of books for pickup at Garden City or Center libraries.

For additional information and/or assistance, contact the University Libraries. Additional information about Library Services is also available online.

For more information about Adelphi University’s Distance Learning Policy, please contact the Director of the Faculty Center for Professional Excellence.


This policy does not have forms associated with it at this time. Upon periodic policy review this area will be evaluated to determine if additional information is needed to supplement the policy.

Related Information

C-RAC Statement re: 21st Century Distance Education Guidelines, March 2021

Regular and Substantive Interaction Infographic, OSCQR, SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric

Document History

  • Last Reviewed Date: January 9, 2024
  • Last Revised Date: January 9, 2024
  • Policy Created: May 13, 2012 (previous revision date)

Note: The current policy was drafted in academic year 2022-2023 by the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Innovation and Technology (SCAIT) with input from the Office of the Provost. It was endorsed by the Faculty Senate on 2/20/2023.

Who Approved This Policy

Office of the Provost

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