The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) defines online courses as those in which all or the majority (75% or more) of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other. UIS defines online learning as sections delivered online and asynchronously. The Department of Education describes regular and substantive interaction between instructor and students as an essential element of an online course. Failure to comply with the Department of Education’s regular and substantive interaction regulation can have a negative impact on student financial assistance.

Five factors are the focus of “regular and substantive” interaction:

Appropriate form of media used. The institution’s online instruction is delivered through an appropriate form of media;

Instructors must meet accreditation requirements. The instructors with whom students regularly and substantively interact meet the requirements of the institution’s accrediting agency for instruction in the subject matter;

At least 2 of 5 “substantive” activities are used. Instructors engage in at least two forms of substantive interaction meeting the regulatory requirements for the course or competency;

There are scheduled and predictable interaction opportunities. The institution has established scheduled and predictable opportunities for substantive interaction between students and instructors and create expectations for instructors to monitor each student’s engagement and substantively engage with students on the basis of that monitoring; and

Instructor responsive to student requests. Instructors are responsive to students’ requests for instructional support.


WCET Frontiers: Regular and Substantive Interaction Refresh


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