UCF Distributed Learning Guidelines

1. Principles of Good Practice

UCF courses and programs adhere to the policy statement regarding Distance Education and Correspondence Courses, as maintained by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Principles of Good Practice as defined by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). For NC-SARA participation. UCF abides by the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education proposed by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC).  UCF’s online learning expectations also draw upon the work of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), Quality Matters (QM), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and other related professional organizations.

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, educational specialist, and doctoral levels. Additional information on UCF’s accreditation with SACSCOC may be found on the Academic Program Quality website.

The oversight of systems that support distributed learning programs resides with the Vice Provost for Digital Learning.

2. Faculty Development

Well-trained, prepared, and supported faculty members are critical to delivery of quality distributed learning courses and student success. Therefore, the university provides faculty development programs to prepare faculty to teach distributed learning courses. These programs from the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) provide faculty members with development and support for teaching Web-based (W), Mixed-Mode (M), Limited Attendance (RS), and Streaming Video (V) courses as well as adaptive learning course sections with the PAL attribute.

3. Faculty Credentials

Faculty members who design and teach sections in Distributed Learning modalities, or those with the PAL attribute, receive the support and resources of the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL).  To become qualified to teach in Distributed Learning modalities, or the PAL attribute, faculty must earn credentials through CDL faculty development programs. The available credentials include: 

  • Asynchronous Design/Teaching (ADT): This credential permits course design and delivery in the W, M, MR and CBA’s REAL modalities, and is supported by CDL’s flagship IDL 6543 program or equivalent.
  • Asynchronous Teaching (AT):  This credential permits the delivery of an existing W, M and MR modality course without substantial alterations and is supported by the ADL 5000 program.
  • Video Design/Teaching (VDT):  This credential permits course design and delivery in the synchronous and asynchronous V, VL, ML, RL and RS modalities.  It is supported by CDL’s Effective Teaching with Video (ETV) program and predecessor programs.
  • Adaptive Design/Teaching (PAL): This credential permits course design and delivery using adaptive learning technologies identified by the PAL attribute.  It is supported by the PAL 6000 program or equivalent product training.

The Executive Director of CDL can grant exceptions to these faculty development requirements, consistent with the following process.

Faculty members who desire to develop and/or teach distributed learning courses independent of support from the Center for Distributed Learning or without qualifying credentials, must have approval from their Department Chair and Dean before offering the course online. The College and Department must be prepared to provide full support for the faculty member and the learners in the course(s). This aligns with accreditation expectations and cannot be waived. Full support according to accreditation guidelines includes the provision of a suitable, reliable server, licensed software, faculty training, learner training and support, and assurance that the Principles of Good Practice referenced in this document are fully adhered to. The College or Department will complete an AA-23 form that documents this commitment for one semester.

Furthermore, faculty who propose to provide online courses as part of a grant or contract must submit this intention to the Center for Distributed Learning after approval from the chair of the department. The purpose of this requirement is to avoid commitments of university resources without identifying the source and funding for these resources within the university.

4. Evaluation and Assessment

End-of-term course evaluations (Student Perception of Instruction) are conducted online for all distributed learning courses in the same manner as for classroom-based courses. The Research Initiative for Teaching Effectiveness (RITE) provides faculty support for assessing instructional effectiveness in distributed learning courses and provides university administrators with information on the impact of distributed learning on faculty, students, and the institution. Longitudinal research includes student demographics, withdrawal and retention rates, success rates, student and faculty satisfaction, and student reactive behavior patterns.

5. Distributed Learning Delivery Modalities

UCF is a leader in the use of digital media and computer technologies in instruction. Students are advised that any university course may require the use of a computer, computer labs, email, the internet, or other digital resources and support software.

The principal distributed learning delivery modalities and attributes at UCF, and their respective class schedule descriptions, are published at https://cdl.ucf.edu/support/student/modalities/.

6. Online Course and Program Development and Delivery Support

Support for the development of Web-based courses and programs is provided to faculty through a collaborative planning process with the colleges and departments and guided by the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL). Faculty credentialing, modality of course design, and modality of the scheduled course must all align. Individual course design support is provided by UCF’s team of instructional designers to faculty credentialed for Flexible Design/Teaching (FDT), and FDT candidates enrolled in IDL 6543 or equivalent.  Web-based and Video instruction is offered via UCF’s enterprise learning management systems and tools, and is supported by CDL. All academic programs proposed for fully online delivery must be developed in collaboration with CDL and  offered as part of the UCF Online catalog.

7. Florida Distance Learning Course Fee

Florida Statute 1009.24(17) states that in order to qualify for the distance learning course fee, at least 80% of the direct instruction of online courses must be delivered via distance technologies. All V, RS, and W courses are submitted to and listed with the Electronic Campus of the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC), and the associated student credit hours are assessed a supplemental distance learning course fee. Academic departments and faculty members must ensure that all RS courses comply with this threshold.  V and W course sections are expected to have 100% of direct instruction online.

8. The Definition of an Online Credit Hour

UCF’s definition of a credit hour can be found in the current Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs. The expectations for a credit hour remain the same regardless of modality.

Page Revisions

Revised: October 30, 2023; December 18, 2022; June 21, 2021; Sept 10, 2018; Feb. 7, 2012; Nov. 30, 2011; Nov. 23, 2009