UCF Distributed Learning Guidelines

1. Principles of Good Practice

UCF adheres to The Principles of Good Practice as defined by the Southern Regional Education Board for the Electronic Campus (SREC). The principles draw upon the work of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and other governing bodies that oversee distance education programs (Ex. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). All UCF distributed learning courses and programs listed in the Electronic Campus have been reviewed against the organization’s Principles of Good Practice.

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 several faculty development to prepare faculty to teach distributed learning courses. Those programs from the Center for Distributed Learning provide faculty members with development and support for teaching Web-based (W), Mixed-Mode (M), Active Learning/Reduced Seat time (RA), and Streaming Video (V and RV) courses as well as courses with the PAL attribute.

3. Faculty Qualifications

Faculty members who deliver W, M, RA, V, and RV modality courses as well as courses with the PAL attribute receive the support and resources of the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL).The faculty members that are recognized as qualified to teach M, W, or RA courses are certified under the following conditions:

  • Successful completion of the IDL6543 faculty development course,
  • Successful completion of the ADL5000 faculty development course,
  • Successful completion of DLI 7836, or
  • Sufficient prior academic experience in online teaching as determined by CDL’s evaluation of an Online Faculty Readiness Assessment (OFRA) submission

Faculty members who seek to develop and/or teach courses with the PAL attribute are certified by completion of

  • Successful completion of PAL6000
  • Successful completion of PAL5000, or
  • Equivalent product training

Faculty members who seek to develop and/or teach courses in a V or RV streaming video modality are recognized as qualified by successful completion of the Teaching with Lecture Capture (TLC) faculty development course.

The Vice Provost for Digital Learning can grant exceptions to these faculty development requirements, consistent with the following process.

Faculty members who desire to develop and/or teach distributed 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 is an accreditation requirement that 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 be complete an AA-23 form that documents this commitment for one semester. The Vice Provost or designee will then determine if the request from the College or Department meets the Principles of Good Practice, is in compliance with accreditation standards, and, ultimately, whether the courses may be offered online.

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

Student evaluations of instructors (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, e-mail, the World Wide Web, or other digital resources and support software.

The principal distributed learning delivery modalities at UCF and their respective class schedule descriptions are:

Course Modality
Available to Campus-Based Students
Available to UCF Online Students
- Courses are online conducted via flexible, asynchronous Web-based instruction and collaboration using various technologies. Some courses may require minimal campus attendance or in-person/proctored examinations.
MMixed Mode - Courses include both required classroom attendance and online instruction in a blended format. In-person classroom activities are more than 20% of the instructional time during the semester. 
VVideo - Courses include both required classroom attendance and online instruction in a blended format. In-person classroom activities are more than 20% of the instructional time during the semester. 
RSLimited Attendance - Courses are primarily online in a blended format combining required face-to-face and online elements. In-person classroom activities may use up to 20% of the instructional time during the semester.
PFace-To-Face - Courses have required classroom attendance and meet on a regularly scheduled basis in-person. Students may encounter online, video, or adaptive elements as part of the instruction, thus requiring a computer.

Video streamed courses are digitally recorded, sometimes during live face-to-face class sessions and sometimes as standalone video courses. These digital recordings are made available for on-demand streaming over the Internet. All faculty who wish to teach via one of the video modalities must work with CDL to ensure that they receive the required training and support, in accordance with accreditation guidelines.

Online Course Development 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). Web-based courses are offered via UCF’s enterprise learning management system and supported by CDL.

Web-based courses require time and resources to produce. New courses may be developed through funding provided through the Center for Distributed Learning for faculty participation in IDL6543 and DLI7836. Academic departments are given the option of granting either a one-course release or a dual compensation contract to the participating faculty member during the term in which the course is being developed. If choosing a course release, the compensation amount will be transferred directly to the academic department. Faculty must successfully complete the course to qualify for funds disbursement.

The Center for Distributed Learning offers specialized training – specifically ADL5000 – for instructors who are preparing to take over and teach a pre-existing W or M class.  There is no compensation for faculty completing ADL5000.

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, RV, RA, and W courses are submitted to and listed with the Electronic Campus of the Florida Distance Learning Consortium (FDLC), and the associated student credit hours are assessed a supplemental distance learning course fee. Academic departments and faculty members must ensure that all V, RV, RA, and W courses comply with this 80% threshold.

6. 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.

7. Oversight of Accreditation Standards – Distributed Learning Course Delivery

The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, which has published a policy statement related to distance learning. The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for determining that the guidelines are met. The specific areas of the guidelines that must be addressed include: Curriculum and Instruction, Library and Learning Resources, Student Services, and Facilities and Finances. The oversight of systems that support distributed learning programs resides with the Vice Provost for Digital Learning.

Page Revisions

Revised Nov. 23, 2009; Nov. 30, 2011; Feb. 7, 2012; Sept 10, 2018