Online Course Requirements

Instructional Modalities 

Courses may be taught in a variety of modalities once approved and need not seek UOCC approval to teach in different modalities. Modality will be decided at the department level at the time of scheduling an individual instance of the course, referred to as a “class”, for any given term. Instructional modality choices should be grounded in pedagogy and student success goals rather than department or instructor convenience. Departments are responsible for ensuring that assigned faculty are adequately trained to teach in specialized modalities such as WEB SYNC, WEB ASYNC or HYBRID. UO Online is available for consultation in the design and delivery of courses with online components.

UO Requirements for Online Courses (Hybrid, Asynchronous Online and Synchronous Online)

Departments are responsible for ensuring that classes taught in the modalities listed in this section meet the federal guidelines for online courses and that instructors teaching these classes have the appropriate experience and/or training to successfully teach in these modalities. To assist with that, the following conditions must be met: 

  1. Before a class is taught online for the first time, the academic unit will ensure that the instructor of the new class consults with UO Online about essential elements in online course design. 
  2. Before each instructor teaches online for the first time, the instructor will complete a “Preparing to teach online” session with UO Online. 
  3. Before a class is taught hybrid for the first time, the academic unit will ensure that the instructor of the new class consults with UO Online or TEP about essential practices for blending online and in-person activities into an integrated student learning experience. 

See also UO definitions of course modalities.

U.S. Department of Education Guidelines for Online Courses

Classes that fit the hybrid, asynchronous online and synchronous online definitions must meet the following federal requirements for online courses. 

The U.S. Department of Education approved new regulations in 2021 for online courses and programs for which students may use federal financial aid. At UO, this would include web synchronous, web asynchronous and hybrid instructional classes.  The regulations state that these classes must ensure “regular and substantive interactions (RSI) between a student and an instructor(s)”. “Regular” is defined as taking place on a “predictable and scheduled basis” throughout the course, and “substantive” means engaging students in the class through teaching, learning, and assessments including at least two of the following instructional activities: 

  1. Providing direct instruction 
  2. Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s course work 
  3. Providing information or responding to student questions about the content of the course or competency 
  4. Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency 
  5. Or other instructional activities approved by the institution’s/program’s accrediting agency 
The three essential characteristics of RSI: 
  1. Initiated by the instructor 
  2. Frequent and consistent 
  3. Focuses on the course subject 
The following are examples of what is NOT considered RSI: 
  • Recorded content or readings which do not require review of the material and then interaction with the instructor 
  • Instructor-student contact not related to course content 
  • Recording grades 
  • Auto-graded assignments 
  • Welcome or reminder messages 
  • Unmoderated online forums 

The activities in the list above can be part of an online or hybrid class but must be in addition to other activities which meet the definition of RSI. 

Approved By: University Senate        Date: 05/03/2023

Motion Number: US22/23-20

Revision History: First version approved 05/03/2023

Original Source:Proposed New Process and Changes to Course-related Policies | The University of Oregon Senate (