Author: Ray Schroeder
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By Ben Unglesbee , Education Dive
The Education Department has revised its proposed rules around distance education to clarify the role of subject-matter experts and their interaction with students, Inside Higher Ed reported. The changes are part of the department’s ongoing negotiated rulemaking on accreditation. The latest proposal nixes language letting accreditors define distance education. The revision also calls for a subject matter expert to lead, rather than simply be included in, an instructional team. It also ensures subject-matter experts are responsible for assessing student learning, and it includes academic credentials in addition to work experience as criteria for a subject-matter expert. The revisions also add specificity to the definition of “regular and substantive” interaction between students and instructors. Regular is now defined as once-per-week interaction for courses worth three or more credit hours and every two weeks for courses less than three credit hours. Some subcommittee members proposed an alternative definition that accounted more for academic progress than duration, which favor emerging models of online learning.