Online Education Compliance for Instructors and Designers
When it comes to delivering online and hybrid education, the University of Michigan’s (U-M) compliance with various laws, regulations, and accreditor standards depends in large part on individual choices made by instructional faculty and instructional/learning experience designers working side-by-side with those faculty. Of particular concern are ensuring that course material is accessible to all students (and promptly acting when this turns out not to be the case), avoiding copyright infringement, and, where applicable, meeting student financial aid eligibility requirements under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (“Title IV”).
Satisfying regulatory requirements in this context does not necessarily mean changing instructional or design approaches just to check a few boxes to maintain compliance and avoid liability. Rather, focusing on “good teaching” can often serve as the most effective way to achieve compliance, as the desire to create quality educational experiences is shared by educators and regulators alike.
Becoming more familiar with the online learning regulatory framework can nevertheless prove both beneficial to online teaching and learning experience design and critical during accreditation reviews, audits, or in the event that a student files a formal complaint relating to a course or program. The following resources provide an introduction to key, course-level compliance topics and suggested best practices for satisfying minimum requirements as well as going beyond those requirements to better serve students.