Distance Learning Definitions

SACS Definition of Distance Learning

For the purposes of the Commission on College's accreditation review, distance education is a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferencing; or video cassettes, DVD's, and CD-ROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program.”

Fully Online

A distance learning course that is offered 100% through the internet and does not require students to meet at a central location. All instruction, assignments, and communication are delivered online. Fully online courses are internet-based and may be synchronous or asynchronous.

Hybrid

A blended course that uses a combination of distance learning and traditional face-to-face instruction. The online portion of hybrid courses may be internet-based or offered via compressed video, thus online activities may be synchronous or asynchronous. UK does not define at what percentage at face-to-face course becomes hybrid, but for SACS DL purposes, we define hybrid courses as those courses that offer between 51-99% of the course online.

Synchronous Online

A distance learning course that requires student participation at a specified time using conferencing software, such as Zoom or other tools, along with the LMS.

Asynchronous Online

A distance learning course that does not require students to participate at a specific time. Students complete course work on their own time, within a given time frame.

Internet-Based

A distance learning course that is completed online via the LMS and/or provided conferencing tools. Internet-based courses may be synchronous or asynchronous.

Compressed-Video

A distance learning course where students at one location are connected via interactive video (ITV) to students at another location. Compressed-video (ITV) courses are synchronous online because they require students to participate in the course at a specific location and/or time.