Some Definitions of ‘Online Course’ May Be Legalese

By Ilene Frank

[Note: This article is based on an email message sent to me by Ilene on 1.24.12. It’s in response to “Sloan-C’s Definition of ‘Online Course’ May Be Out of Sync with Reality,” published on 1.22.12. -Editor]

I’m wondering if some of those definitions of “distance/online courses” are just legalese.  Here in Florida, we have definitions like these two below:

Each community college may assess a student who enrolls in a course listed in the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog established pursuant to s. 1004.09 a  per-credit-hour distance learning course user fee. For purposes  of assessing this fee, a distance learning course is defined to  mean a course where a least eighty percent of the direct instruction of the course is delivered using some form of technology when the student and instructor are separated by time, space, or both. (From CS/SB 844 – Postsecondary Distance Learning [SPSC])

Then there is this:

Distance Learning Delivery Indicator denotes that the student and the instructor are separated in time and/or place during 50% or more of the instruction. (From Florida DOE)

The definition above is used for “Automated Student Information System — Automated Student Data Elements” (Florida DOE) and includes codes like these:

A  Web-based or Internet-based courses.
B  Video conferencing.
C  Other distance learning delivery.
X  Those combinations of Technology which do not meet the 50% requirement.
Z  Not a Distance Learning class.

I’m pretty sure there are even more definitions floating around in the state laws. Not sure any of it is rational or has anything to do with pedagogy! It seems like it is just a way to do accounting! <grin>

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