“You are what you do”: Policy changes for faculty moving from face-to-face to online

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session Leadership

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Faculty new to teaching online may not be aware of the myriad federal policies that impact online education. This session is an overview of the most important federal policies that impact the delivery of online education including accessibility, regular and substantive interaction, and the difference between correspondence and distance education. 


Russ Poulin leads the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, which advocates for effective practices and policies for digital learning in higher education. WCET’s members represent institutions, state agencies, corporations, and non-profit organizations from all fifty states. In paying attention to federal, state, and institution policies, he twice represented the distance education and competency-based education communities in federal negotiated rulemaking processes. The Presidents’ Forum, Excelsior College, the National University Technology Network, and the Online Learning Consortium have all recognized Russ for his contributions. He is also partial to movies, cats, and his wife, Laurie. Contact: rpoulin@wiche.edu or @RussPoulin.

Additional Authors

Dr. Van Davis joined WCET in March 2021 where he serves as chief strategy officer and also serves as the Services Design and Strategy Officer for Every Learner Everywhere. Prior to these roles, he served as founder and principal at Foghlam Consulting where he worked with colleges, universities, and nonprofits on strategic planning, higher education policy, and research. Van has over 25 years of experience in higher education. During his career he has served as a faculty member and academic administrator, director of innovations at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and associate vice president for higher education policy and research at Blackboard Inc. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in 20th Century United States History with an emphasis in civil rights from Vanderbilt University and a B.A. in History from Southwestern University. Van has devoted his career to improving educational access and affordability for students and has led numerous projects such as the development of Texas’ adult degree completion initiative, Texas’ statewide course redesign project, and the development of the first competency-based baccalaureate degrees at Texas public institutions. Van lives outside of Austin, Texas with his beloved wife where he enjoys hiking, camping, and building LEGO models.

Extended Abstract

Faculty new to teaching online (and even those who have some experience) may not be aware of the myriad federal policies that impact online education. Attention to these policies is critical both for the success of any online course as well as for ensuring that institutions remain in compliance with federal regulations, including those that govern Title IV eligibility. In the recent rapid transition from face-to-face to remote instruction, the Department of Education indicated that it would waive a number of distance education related regulations. And even though some of those waivers have been extended through December, attention to federal regulations, especially those related to accessibility and regular and substantive interaction, are critically important in assuring pedagogical quality as well as regulatory compliance. Attendees in this session will:

  • Understand the most important current federal regulations related to distance education including:
    • accessibility (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act),
    • the difference between correspondence education and distance education,
    • regular and substantive interaction, and
    • state authorization regulations.
  • Understand recent updates to Department of Education’s waivers and/or implementation of federal distance education regulations.
  • Review of recently adopted distance education regulations, especially any new definitions of distance education, regular and substantive interaction, and correspondence education.
  • Facilitate the development of collaborative responses to federal regulations that participants can use in designing and delivering online instruction.

The session will incorporate a combination of didactic and interactive interactions. Session speakers will provide ample time to both answer participant questions as well as facilitate the development of collaborative solutions that address federal regulatory requirements.  Participants will leave the session with resources that summarize federal distance education regulations as well as a list of sources for further reference.