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Policy on Distance Education Courses



Distance Education refers to a mode of instruction in which some or all students are separated from the instructor. A Distance Education course must support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, either synchronously (live but remote) or asynchronously (on demand and remote). Many technologies can be used to deliver Distance Education, including the internet, recorded videos, online audio/video conferencing, online discussion forums, and online Learning Management Systems.


Distance Education courses can employ several mechanisms of instruction, including online lectures, online discussion sections, online office hours, and online discussion forums, each of which can be synchronous, asynchronous or a combination of both. A course will be considered a Distance Education course if (for some or all students) less than 50% of student-instructor interaction time was designed to occur face-to-face (meaning physically in the same room).

Standards for Distance Education Courses

All courses offered at UC San Diego should meet the same high standards in terms of the educational experience they offer to students, regardless of the mode of instruction. Hallmarks of these standards include:

  • Active engagement of a qualified instructor who has significant expertise in the subject of the course;
  • Frequent instructor guided activity to support student learning;
  • A means for students to periodically assess their progress towards achievement of course learning goals.

Courses that meet these standards and employ (primarily or exclusively) technologically-mediated formats may be offered at UC San Diego via Distance Education courses (sometimes also referred to as remote or online courses).

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