Distance Education

Standards & Regulations

Olivet University Online Curricular Procedures and Policies

The following is a guide to the course quality standards for Olivet University's Distance Education programs and courses.

Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) Integrated Standards

It is the intention of Olivet University to provide educational offerings aligned with the Comprehensive Integrated Standards of the Association for Biblical Higher Education.

Download: Comprehensive Integrated Standards for Institutional Accreditation

Distance Learning Outcome Design, Approval, Administration, and Evaluation

Design (Making a Syllabus)

The first step to designing learning outcomes for distance learning courses is to identify appropriate learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills, or competencies in course and program materials. The faculty member(s) responsible for the course prepare an appropriate syllabus that includes learning outcomes, a course description, an outline of study, learning resources, and descriptions of course units, learning activities, and grading policies.

Click here to download Olivet University Syllabus Template.

Syllabi receive final approval from the Dean and Program Director, who oversee course development.

Once the syllabus is completed and approved, the faculty responsible for the course writes original content for the course and works with instructional designers with oversight from Olivet's Instructional Systems Design Director Sylvia Lee and her team of media resources staff to locate or design interactive elements such as graphics, video clips, flash interactive activities, and animations. Next, the assigned instructional designer creates the course Web pages; the responsible faculty member has responsibility for reviewing this work material for accuracy and academic quality and commonly adds new ideas throughout this phase. In this way, faculty members ensure that the technological tools used in the program are appropriate for the content and intended learning outcomes.

Next, the course is reviewed by the faculty member and instructional designer who compare the finished product with original design document (syllabus), who makes adjustments as needed. Once any problems have been resolved, the program dean/director conducts a final review and then gives approval to Olivet's Instructional Systems Design Director to migrate the course to the university's production server so it can be offered to students.


Distance learning students are provided with learning outcomes, course description, course outline, course resource and learning activities, and course unit information in their course syllabi in the MyOlivet intranet system. Courses feature a standardized orientation "node" that includes a "welcome" page, a "getting started" page, an "about this course page," and a sequence of learning tasks organized into course tasks or units using a standardized page layout.

Evaluation (Selecting Appropriate Measures)

The means used to evaluate outcomes among main campus and distance learning students are often the same, since all programs are designed to produce the same learning outcomes. There are sometimes differences, however. For instance, online course activities often generate more written records of student thought processes (in chat rooms and threaded discussions), which online faculty can archive and evaluate closely later.

It's the responsibility of each department to determine a plan for how each course fits into each program and a plan of assessment.

Course Quality Standards

Defining educational quality is the overarching purpose for creating and applying quality standards for distance education instruction and course development and delivery. It is the intention of Olivet University to keep our focus on quality while working to create and improve the Internet-based teaching and learning environments, pedagogy, methodologies, and evaluation systems applied by instructors for teaching at a distance. The Olivet Distance Education Quality Standards are aligned with Association for Biblical Higher Education accreditation standards, the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), and Olivet standards for the student assessment of teaching. These Quality Standards are meant to assist instructors who are teaching at a distance, and all academic units with planning and developing distance education courses and providing an assessment framework for evaluating the quality of Olivet distance education courses.

1.0 Teaching/Learning Standards
  • 1.1 Distance education students are given advance information about course requirements, equipment needs and techniques for succeeding in a distance learning environment, as well as technical training and support throughout the course
  • 1.2 Students are active learners in presenting, organizing, applying and constructing information, ideas and knowledge.
  • 1.3 All course objectives/outcomes and requirements are clearly presented.
  • 1.4 Courses maximize the opportunities for regularized and ongoing interaction between teacher and students, among students, and between students and the learning environment.
  • 1.5 The course provides mediation strategies. Mediation as a means of intervention between the student and the subject matter, as a way to guide the learning process toward particular outcomes, and connect a body of knowledge with a student's cognitive framework (Petrie 1981).
  • 1.6 The course provides opportunities for active learning that allows students to engage and participate in activities and tasks that enhance comprehension, understanding, and knowledge.
  • 1.7 All student assignments and their due dates as well as tests and test dates are explained and posted at the beginning of the course.
  • 1.8 Examinations are relevant to the reading assignments and to the learning material presented in the course.
  • 1.9 Feedback to student assignments and questions is constructive and provided in a timely manner. Instructor commits him/herself to a turn-around-time for normal student e-mail messages within 2 working days, and communication of exam results within 7 working days unless students are informed otherwise.
  • 1.10 The course documents describe the functions of the course website to the student (how to post assignments, communicate with the instructor etc.)
2.0 Media and Materials Standards
  • 2.1 All external links and internal functionality of web courses will be fully operational when students begin the course.
  • 2.2 The course content will be kept current term by term.
  • 2.3 Prior approval for use of copyrighted materials as required by law is obtained before the course materials are released to students on the Internet.
  • 2.4 Technology is appropriate to the course pedagogy.
  • 2.5 The course is facilitated through the Blackboard portal.
3.0 Accessibility Standards
  • 3.1 DE courses provide accessibility with screen readers. Images and links contained in the course website must show alternate text upon cursor contact.
  • 3.2 All assignment pages are provided in a printable format. Courses provide ample written instructions for every task the student has to perform: taking tests or quizzes, posting contributions to the on-line discussion, downloading files/software, finding supplementary reading, returning to the website, etc.
  • 3.3 DE students have access to sufficient library resources that may include a "virtual library" accessible through the World Wide Web.
  • 3.4 Academic counseling and advising is available to distance learning students at the same level as it is for students in on-campus environments.
4.0 Privacy and Protection Standards
  • 4.1 To protect the integrity of the teaching/learning process in courses that do not feature a proctored test environment the student must be required to formally acknowledge and pledge adherence to Olivet's Policy of Academic Integrity published in the Student Handbook.
  • 4.2 To provide reasonable assurance of privacy, there must be a published course policy regarding the electronic transmission of student grades including a provision for password protection.
  • 4.3 Procedures are in place to help ensure security of student work.
  • 4.4 Students receive clear instruction to save and retain copies of work submitted electronically.
5.0 Evaluation Standards
  • 5.1 An approved evaluation instrument(s) is provided with the course to insure student feedback on the functionality of the website, the organization/content of the course, and instructor performance.
  • 5.2 Evaluation of student outcomes includes assessment of student products and exams as well as student evaluations of the course.
  • 5.3 Data on enrollment, costs, and successful/innovative uses of technology are used to evaluate program effectiveness.
  • 5.4 Intended learning outcomes are reviewed regularly to ensure clarity, utility, and appropriateness.
  • 5.5 Course meets or exceeds Olivet University's academic standards.
  • 5.6 Teacher evaluation is determined and conducted according to Olivet University policies. Teacher evaluation is based on: course content, course design, course presentation, student performance, and teacher interaction with students.
  • 5.7 Course is evaluated on a regular basis and revisions documented. Instructional materials are reviewed periodically to ensure they continue to meet program standards. Course evaluation includes: technical design, curriculum alignment, rigor, depth, breadth, student performance, and student participation and interaction.
6.0 Degree/Certificate Program Standards
  • 6.1 Each program of study results in learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree or certificate awarded.
  • 6.2 An Olivet University/DE offered degree or certificate program is coherent and complete.
  • 6.3 Qualified Olivet University faculty provides appropriate oversight of the DE program.
7.0 Institutional Support Standards
  • 7.1 The reliability of the technology delivery system is as failsafe as possible.
  • 7.2 A centralized system provides support for building and maintaining the distance education infrastructure.
  • 7.3 Olivet's Curriculum Committee and the academic division have approved the course for credit.
8.0 Student Support Standards
  • 8.1 Students receive information about programs, including admission requirements, tuition and fees, books and supplies, technical and proctoring requirements, and student support services.
  • 8.2 Throughout the duration of the course/program, students have access to technical assistance, including detailed instructions regarding the electronic media used, practice sessions prior to the beginning of the course, and convenient access to technical support staff.
  • 8.3 Questions directed to student service personnel are answered accurately and quickly, with a structured system in place to address student complaints.
  • 8.4 Technical requirements for student access are documented.
  • 8.5 Minimum technology competencies for students are announced and assessed.
  • 8.6 DE courses have monitoring/proctoring policies in place.
9.0 Faculty Support Standards
  • 9.1 Technical assistance in DE course development is available to faculty, who are encouraged to use it.
  • 9.2 Faculty members are assisted in the transition from classroom teaching to online instruction and are assessed during the process.
  • 9.3 Instructor training and assistance, including peer mentoring, continues through the progression of the online course.

Student Academic Regulations

Olivet University online students follow all of the academic regulations as on-campus Olivet University students. These regulations and procedures are published to assist students by providing information that is essential for planning and pursuing their academic programs. Continuing efforts are made each year by the students, faculty, and administration to revise and improve these regulations in order to enhance the quality of the university's programs and the achievement of educational goals.