Questions about compliance and distance learning?

November 13, 2020
  • Compliance and Reporting
  • Online and Distance Learning
  • Recordkeeping Compliance
  • Records and Academic Services
smiling black student with headphones and laptop, writing in textbook

When campuses across the country began shutting down in mid-march, they shifted rapidly to remote course delivery in order to complete the semester.  At the time, most institutions hoped that this would be a short term solution, and that by fall, they would resume “normal” operations.

But over the summer, a growing number of colleges adopted primarily online or hybrid learning models. According to October data from The Chronicle of Higher Education, only 4% of nearly 3,000 institution respondents are fully in-person. Many will conclude any in-person components of their fall term instruction by Thanksgiving break, and plans for spring remain primarily hybrid or remote. 

The rapid rise of remote learning and hybrid models in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a lasting impact on institutional instructional delivery models.  As AACRAO members work through the multitude of challenges surrounding this shift, it is important to consider the issues of compliance.  Addressing the complex web of federal, state, and accreditation regulations and requirements surrounding distance education and keeping up with the growing numbers of waivers and regulatory interpretations issued by the Department of Education is a continuing concern for institutions. This month, AACRAO brings you two webinars to help bring some clarity to the issues of compliance and distance learning. 

Compliance with NC-SARA: What Does This Mean and Why Is It Important?

On November 17 at 3pm ET, we will be joined by senior staff from the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) to learn about the organization, provide insights into the problems that SARA solves, the obligations of participating institutions, the significant savings associated with participation in NC-SARA, and annual institutional data collection.

What Institutions Need to Know About the New Distance Learning Regulations Recently Released by the Department of Education

On November 23 at noon ET, we will host Diane Auer Jones, Principal Deputy Under Secretary at U.S. Department of Education to discuss the final version of new regulations governing distance learning published in the Federal Register this past August. This webinar will facilitate a dialogue between the Department and AACRAO members to ensure that institutions will be aware how these changes will impact their reporting requirements.

The rules take effect in July 2021, but the department said institutions can use "the new flexibilities" as soon as they are published in the Federal Register. The product of months of negotiations by a panel of experts, the final rule strives to allow more flexibility to emphasize demonstration of learning rather than seat time when measuring student outcomes. It will also allow for more asynchronous online delivery of courses, or portions of courses, in traditional “clock-hour” hands-on programs, as well as provide more clarity to the term “regular and substantive interaction” between the instructor and students.