Standard 12: D. Educational Programs

Standard 12: D. Educational Programs



Historically, alternative delivery methods have provided educational opportunities for individuals who are unable to participate in an on-campus program.

Special attention is given by TRACS to alternative delivery methods. The undertaking of these types of programs requires purpose, methods, and resources that significantly differ from on-campus offerings and should be undertaken only when the faculty, administration, and governing board have considered the unique requirements for successful programing and evaluation in these delivery methods.

The vast majority of these alternative delivery programs have evolved from quality on-campus programs. In an effort to serve new populations of students, as well as the traditional student population, many of today’s institutions have introduced new teacher-student relationships that differ from relationships that have traditionally been employed. In some instances these relationships differ according to the ratio of students to teachers (independent study), and the frequency, length, or mode of contact (external degree on-line programs), while in other instances differences pertain to the mode in which the student interacts with the subject matter (experiential learning). In contemporary postsecondary education, many institutions have developed external degree and learning programs with varying types of innovations.

Institutions that make extensive use of distance learning modes of education will present evidence that these are appropriate to higher education, consistent with institutional objectives, and effective (though alternative) means for achieving the intent of TRACS standards. The institution will demonstrate that students completing these programs have the opportunity to acquire the same levels of knowledge and competencies as those students completing its regular on-campus programs. Therefore, it is essential that there be regular, systematic evaluation of all distance learning education to assess the appropriateness to the purpose of the institution. It is expected that these programs maintain the academic integrity of the institution.

a. Descriptions

i. Home Campus Based Multi-Modal Delivery (Residential)

Definition: Home campus based, multi-modal delivery methods are considered to be forms of instruction which emanate from the main/central campus and where the students and professors are not geographically separated but meet at a location that is not on the home campus.

Examples of delivery methods not considered to be Home Campus Based Multi-Modal Delivery Systems include off campus intensives at multiple locations, study abroad, combinations (hybrid/blended instruction), and/or field experience internships, practicum, local field trips, etc., that are part of the programs offered at the home campus.

State and/or country authorization and TRACS approval are required for home campus based multi-modal delivery methods that are geographically located away from the home campus.

Note: For off campus instruction regularly offered at another site, once instruction reaches 50% of a program, a Substantive Change Petition is required for a Branch Campus. For instruction that is less than 50% of a program at one location, a Substantive Change Petition is required for a Teaching Site.

ii. Distance Education

Definition:  Distance education is education that uses on-line technologies to deliver instruction to students who are geographically separated from the instructor and where there is regular and usually involves regular and substantive interaction between the student and the content, the student and their peers, as well as the student and the instructor by electronic means.

Courses using on-line delivery methods are considered residential in that control emanates from the home campus.  TRACS does not approve on-line only programs or accredit institutions that offer only on-line programs.  Only educational programs/courses offered at the home campus may be offered via on-line delivery methods.

Examples of on-line delivery methods include learning via the Internet using a Learning Management System (such as Blackboard, Moodle, and Populi); pre-recorded media, etc., which utilize electronic interactions between students and instructors.

iii. Correspondence Education

Definition: Correspondence Education is a program and/or course provided by the institution which uses instructional materials via mail or electronic transmission to students who are geographically separated from the instructor and where interaction between the instructor and the student is limited.  Courses are typically self-paced and students start at any time during an academic year and are not part of a formalized class or cohort.

Coursework using this delivery method is considered non-residential and does not usually include other delivery methods. Examples of correspondence education include workbooks, typically self-paced, that are sent out via regular mail or electronically.

b. Initiating Alternative Delivery Methods

i. Accredited institutions desiring to initiate Alternative Delivery Methods programs are required to complete and submit the Proposed Substantive Change Form (found on TRACS website).

ii. Address the applicable Prospectus Checklist items, and

iii. Follow the Standards and Evaluative Criteria below.

Standards and Evaluative Criteria