Distance Education

Guiding Principles and Goals

Distance Education Strategic Goals

  • Align distance education programs with university, state, federal, and accreditation laws and requirements
  • Implement a funding model that is beneficial for Ohio State and its Colleges and Schools, as well as self-sustaining for the Office of Distance Education and eLearning
  • Create and coordinate transparent policies and processes for developing distance education programs
  • Set baseline success measures such as student satisfaction rates and graduate rates
  • Ranked in US News & World Report Online Education for each distance education program

Learn more in our ODEE Strategic Plan


Guiding Principles

The guiding principles of our distance education program are value, quality and rigor. These distinguish us from the busy and competitive field of distance education. Focusing on the differentiating factors of our degrees when communicating to potential students will clearly mark the value of an Ohio State online degree. 

  • Value

    Our focus will be on programs that are available 100% at a distance. This enables us to serve a larger set of potential students who may not be able to come to campus due to work or life commitments. The courses are developed in collaboration between OSU’s nationally recognized faculty and our instructional design experts.
  • Quality

    It is essential that we uphold the integrity and quality of an Ohio State degree. Students are held to the same high admissions standards and the caliber of student admitted to our distance programs is equal to that of our on-campus programs.
  • Rigor

    Consistent, rigorous course experiences both on-campus and at a distance are what produce students who are prepared for their future careers. Unlike many competitors that house distance faculty in a distance college, and hire many of these faculty on a temporary or term-by-term basis, Ohio State Online students are taught by the same faculty from the same colleges as their on-campus peers and held to the same rigorous course standards. 

Plan for Growth

The growth of our distance education initiative is important. Equally important is that we grow responsibly and with the highest regard to quality. Our strategic plan is to develop 15 new distance education programs by the end of fiscal year 2018 and continue to expand our online general education course offerings. 


Business Model

The distance education budget model, approved by the Office of Academic Affairs and Senate Fiscal in May 2013, applies to students enrolled in only distance (75+% online) courses as part of an approved distance education program with a Program subplan label of ONL. Distance Programs, Courses, Students all have an ONL subplan in the Registrar system. All funding flows through the ONL tag.

Review the class label job aid on the university registrar's website.

The tuition model is defined below:

Tuition In-State

  • In-State Tuition
  • $100 distance fee


  • In-State Tuition
  • $100 distance fee
  • $5 out-of-state fee

The distance education budget model is consistent with the current Ohio State budget structure, with all revenues going through the budget office. Revenue is calculated on a two-year average with distribution lagging a year. Where marginal revenues are subject to the existing 24% support unit tax and net marginal revenue is split 70/30 between the college and ODEE (split evaluated annually). In this budget model, colleges receive a larger share of the tuition dollar then a face-to-face tuition dollar. The division can be outlined in this diagram.

Bar graph comparing percentage of each tuition dollar that goes to colleges for online students compared to graduate and undergraduate students
Ohio State University incentivizes its colleges to offer online degrees through the above budget model, which ensures the college earns more SSA 4 is only charged for online students and goes to the Office of Distance Education and eLearning to cover instructional design, marketing, and other administrative services associated with operating online. SSAs 1, 2, and 3 cover on-campus services and are only charged for students taking classes on-ground at Ohio State.

The ODEE share of each tuition dollar covers:

The ODEE share is an assessment (SSA-4), and no other student services assessments apply to colleges under this model.

A Distance Education Budget Model worksheet is available to estimate an online program budget.

DE Budget Model template

Program Development

Partnering with ODEE will provide you with the tools you need to create online offerings that meet the rigor and standards expected in an Ohio State course, including sound course design, academic integrity and accessibility compliance.

Before seeking college approval, get us involved in the development process. We will work with you to make sure that considerations for distance education are discussed and included in your program proposal.

Online program services include:

State Authorization and Adherance to Standards 

We work in parallel to the the Office of Academic Affairs program approval process to ensure that programs meet university, state and federal guidelines for distance education.

Course Design and Development

Faculty work closely with our instructional designers to develop the online courses that are part of your program, providing them with tools, templates and resources to develop and support their courses while infusing best practices in academic integrity.

Media Services

Faculty have access to media services staff, equipment and resources to help in creating a professional course introduction and other program assets.

Marketing and Communications

Programs beenefit from our broad market research and marketing efforts promoting online programs at Ohio State. Each program has a marketing and communications associate available for consultation of program-specific marketing efforts.

These resources are supported and funded through the university's distance education budget model.

Contact us to learn more

Definition and Process

Distance Education Definitions

As defined by the University Registrar:

  • Distance course: 75+% of instruction is offered by distance
  • Distance program: 50+% of the courses offered in a program are distance
  • Note: OSU interprets instruction as formalized instruction.

Internal Program Development Process Flow

Download the full diagram: Online Program Development Process

State Authorization

In order for Ohio State to offer programs outside of Ohio, programs must be authorized by the state or country where students reside. This process of authorization is called State Authorization.

See the interactive State Auth map on the Ohio State Online website.

Course Development

Partnered distance programs have the opportunity to utilize the ODEE Instructional Design staff. ODEE Instructional Designers work one-on-one with program faculty to develop courses. This development is mapped out in a course development schedule to ensure adequate and timely resource allocation.

Learn more about course development


Partnered distance programs have the opportunity to partner with ODEE marketing staff. ODEE Communicators work to enhance your own campaigns around the online programs your unit offers.


Course Development

Partnered distance programs have the opportunity to utilize the ODEE Instructional Design staff. ODEE Instructional Designers work one-on-one with program faculty to develop courses. This development is mapped out in a course development schedule to ensure adequate and timely resource allocation.

Policies and Procedures

Labeling Mode of Instruction

Determining the number of instructional hours offered at a distance will help you select the correct label. For more information see the University Registrar's job aid for class labels.

Credit hoursDistance Learning  
(100% of instruction online)

Distance Enhanced  
(75–99% of instruction online)

Hybrid Delivery  
(25–74% of instruction online)

1750 mins563 to 749 mins188 to 562 mins
21,500 mins1,125 to 1,499 mins375 to 1,124 mins
32,250 mins*1,688 to 2,249 mins563 to 1,687 mins
43,000 mins2,250 to 2,999 mins750 to 2,249 mins
53,750 mins2,813 to 3,749 mins938 to 2,812 mins

* In order to fulfill the 2,250 minute requirement, a typical 3 credit hour course will meet either three times per week for 55 minutes or two times per week for 80 minutes

Course Section and Credit Hours

After determining the correct course labels, there are important course section and credit hour considerations. The Ohio Board of Regents defines one semester credit hour as a minimum of 750 minutes of formalized instruction, typically requiring students to work on out-of-class assignments an average of twice that amount of time.

A class instruction mode is determined one section at a time. Many classes have a lecture section and a recitation or lab section.

  • If a class comprises both a 100% online lecture section and a lab section that is in person, the lecture section is distance learning and the lab section is in person.
  • For distance enhanced classes, consider finding ways to allow students to complete the in-person requirements at a distance so that the class can be considered 100% distance learning, thus opening the class up to a much wider audience. 

Review the class label job aid on the Registrar's website.

Curricular Approval

Every college at Ohio State has a curricular approval process in place to approve new programs and courses as well as changes to existing programs and courses. Contact your college curricular committee and course scheduler to assure that your programs and courses are correctly labeled in the Student Information System (SIS).

Please note, Arts and Sciences as well as Education and Human Ecology both require an additional review of online course syllabi against Quality Matters, a set of nationally recognized, faculty-centered standards used in the design of online and blended courses. This review is initiated during the curricular approval process and competed by Educational Technology teams at the college level.


Course fee(s) are designed to fund additional costs for specific courses (e.g. laboratory, equipment, materials, supplies, technology, etc.) and must be communicated to the student upon course registration. This fee, determined by the college or plan (major), must be approved by the Board of Trustees, senior leadership and the university Budget Office in advance of the term of offering. Any courses that require added materials and/or equipment will have this fee assessed. An approved course fee will apply to all offerings of a course, regardless of instruction method. For example, if a department is considering adding a course fee for a specific course, that course fee would be applied to all students taking the course, whether taught in person or at a distance. To see if a particular course has a fee, please visit the complete course fees listing.

Note: Any student who is enrolled in only Distance Learning (DL) and/or Distance Enhanced (DH) courses throughout a term is charged a $100 distance education administration surcharge. A $5 non-resident distance education fee will replace any applicable non-resident fees, and all university site-based fees will be waived. If a student has any Hybrid (HY), or In Person (P) courses scheduled, all regular fees will be assessed.


Create a Vision

Creating a new online course or bringing your campus course online allows for an opportunity to reimagine the structure of the course, the ways to engage students, key topics and skills for focus, and how to let the story unfold.

Online learning is a very different beast and requires a unique approach and new ways to deliver effective instruction that better meet the needs of online learners.

Speaking of online learners, here are some stats about who enrolls in online courses:

Meet the Distance Ed Student

What’s the typical demographic?

  • Wide variety of ages. In 2019, the average undergraduate was 30.5 years old and the average graduate student was 33.7. (Aslanian)

  • 30% are the first in their family to attend college. (Aslanian)

  • There is growth of traditional college-age students selecting online programs. (edtech mag)

  • Variety of learning styles that may differ from the traditional student. No two learners are the same. Differences in communication, attention, learning, vision, hearing, and mobility. Students with unique learning needs and/or disabilities may be particularly inclined to pursue online education where there is more opportunity to access material in a variety of ways and work at one’s own pace. One in five Americans have a form of disability.

  • While experience with online courses will vary, a majority of students will have previously experienced an online course.

Why did they choose an online course/program?

  • Big focus on career preparation/upward movement

  • Balance

  • Anytime/Anywhere

  • At their own pace

  • Effectiveness (Tech Crunch-Infographic)

How do they access their course content?

Students are more mobile than ever. Whether it’s a laptop carried to a café or a device they pull out while waiting for the bus, students are on the go. Not a bad thing! People with smartphones and tablets engage twice as much in page views, interactions, content consumption, and production (Tech Crunch). Students are often using devices in noisy public places (dirtylittlesecret).

How do they use the internet?

  • Only about 10% of online students don’t have a social media profile.

  • 75% visit social media daily.

  • 69% of students read online newspapers.

  • 70% of online students spend 10 or more hours online weekly.

  • Used to go online roughly five times per day. Now we’re accessing it 27 times per day in smaller chunks. (Kraus)

What keeps them in class?

  • Feeling connected to the instructor (WGA)

  • Student to instructor interaction (WGA)

  • Timely feedback on progress (WGA)

  • Sense that they are a part of a larger community (Faculty Focus)

  • Opportunities for collaborative learning (Faculty Focus)

  • Relevancy of materials, sense of ownership, peer to peer or cohort support

  • Opportunities to leverage strengths

What challenges do they face?

  • Misconceptions about online coursework

  • Perseverance

  • Time management

  • Work/life/study balance

  • Isolation




Becoming acquainted with online learning will help as you start to develop your vision.

Setting aside the “old” to be able to think outside of the box and create a vision for the “new” isn’t an easy task, which is why you have an Instructional Designer to help you brainstorm and sort through ideas.

You might find it helpful to begin by completing the following statement:

“It would be cool if…”

Then get out of the way and let the ideas fly!

As you start to flesh out your ideas to determine which to bring to life and which to save for later, you might also consider the following:

  • If your student were to tell a friend about what they learned in your course in two minutes or less, what would you hope would be a part of that summary?

  • What do you hope students retain after a year or two?

  • How can you integrate professionally relevant technologies, activities, skills, and processes?

  • How can you allow opportunities for students to be creative, practice critical thinking, and relate to the content?

If you’ve taught the course before on campus, you might want to circle back to what you’ve done in the past that students really seemed to connect with. There may be ways to take what you’ve done and rework it for an online classroom setting. While what works in a campus classroom may not immediately translate online and vice versa, there may be opportunities to capture and leverage effective activities in new or different ways.

Working with an Instructional Designer

If you're building a course that's part of an online degree program, you'll work with your instructional designer (ID) from ODEE all along the way. Your ID can help to identify the ideas that might bring the best results based on pedagogical principles and research in online learning. They will support you in working through the possibilities to make the most of the online learning environment.

Not building for an online program, but still looking for help?

While ODEE IDs work primarily with fully online programs, they are always happy to provide a one-hour consultation to offer guidance and recommendations: Consultation Request Form

ID Experience Stories:

Learn more about working with an instructional designer by reading faculty experience stories:

For more help with creating a vision, check out Questions to Ask to Design an Effective Online Course and/or the Course Learning Goals Worksheet.




Plan your course

Designing your online course

The hub of your course learning space is the Carmen learning management system. It's important to design and build a syllabus-based course structure before students start the term. Most leading distance education research organizations, including the Quality Matters organization, advocate a backward design process as you prepare your online course. This involves:

  • Articulating your intended learning outcomes
  • Determining assessments to measure the outcomes
  • Building a week-by-week learning plan with supporting activities

If working on a course for a fully online distance education program, your instructional designer will partner will help you lay out this design plan and then use it to build the online course in Carmen. The following resources may be helpful in guiding you through the process.

ODEE Course Development Resources

These documents help us develop courses for distance programs at Ohio State. Even if you're not working with our instructional designers in one of those programs, you may use these as resources to develop your online courses.

Course Development Timeline
ODEE Online Syllabus Template
This is our 14-week (semester-long) schedule for designing, developing, and constructing a course. The milestones in the process would apply to any online course project.
This accessible syllabus template, which matches our distance education Carmen course template, has specific information and policies for online courses, including participation and discussion guidelines.

Aligning your course with Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is The Ohio State University's way to ensure quality design for online and hybrid courses. Quality Assurance is built into both the course design and review process.

Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity in the Online Classroom

What is Academic Integrity?

Academic integrity is the moral code or ethical policy of academia that governs the behaviors of students, faculty and staff. Ohio State further defines academic integrity as a commitment to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility.

The Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) supports the university community in adhering to this commitment in online courses and programs. ODEE provides academic integrity resources for use during every step of the course creation and delivery process.

In-Person Proctoring 

Proctoring at Ohio State ensures academic integrity during exams taken on-campus or in an online classroom. Instructors are encouraged to utilize the university’s suggested proctoring options for online exams to ensure fairness across courses. 

Online Proctoring 

Proctorio is an online proctoring solution that is fully integrated into CarmenCanvas and ensures academic integrity during exams taken online. The tool allows for flexibility in time and location of proctored exams. Learn more about Proctorio and find the recommended syllabus language in the Resource Center.

More on Academic Integrity at Ohio State

The Office of Academic Affairs' Committee on Academic Misconduct is centrally responsible for maintaining the academic integrity of The Ohio State University. This committee establishes procedures for and investigates all reported cases of alleged academic misconduct.


Build your course

Creating Content

Copyright and eLearning

Carmen Templates

The Distance Education team has created a Carmen course shell that aligns with Quality Assurance and helps us create appealing, visual courses. The shell includes the content structure, homepage, and syllabus and content templates.

The Carmen Course shell is available in the Carmen (Canvas) Commons. When in Carmen (Canvas), select Commons on the left side of the screen and search for "ODEE Distance Education course shell" to import the shell into a course.

Setting up an effective, accessible course in Carmen

Because students interact with your class through a web browser, it's important your Carmen course site is navigable and accessible. You don't need to be a web developer to teach online, but you do need to feel comfortable with the tools you'll use to set up and manage your course(s).

ODEE offers resources and hands-on training sessions on each of these tools. If you'd like some one-on-one support from an instructional designer, complete this request form for a one-hour consultation.

Web and content accessibility

The Ohio State Accessible Classroom Technologies site, a project of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) ADA Coordinator's Office,  Student Life Disability Services , and the Web Accessibility Center, offers guidelines for making content accessible in Carmen, PDFs, and Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files, as well as adding captions to multimedia content.

Professional development: Carmen training sessions

To make sure you're able to focus your energy on teaching and not on technology during your first semesters online, we recommend taking each of the available Carmen training sessions. If you feel comfortable using Carmen with your face-to-face course, you may not need to attend one or more of the workshops. 

  • Carmen: Getting Started: This hands-on workshop will provide you with the skills needed to set up a basic course in Carmen, Ohio State's course management system. The session is intended for instructors who are new to Carmen.
  • Carmen: Activities: This more-advanced session goes into techniques and strategies for using discussions, dropboxes, and groups to conduct effective online activities and assignments.
  • Carmen: Grades: This workshop covers how to set up the Gradebook in Carmen and enter and manage grades.
  • Carmen: Strategies for Grading Online: This session discusses using rubrics in Carmen, providing online feedback, and using the plagiarism checker.
  • Using CarmenConnect: If you intend to hold live sessions or office hours in your online course, you can learn the basic skills in this workshop to set up and manage meeting rooms in CarmenConnect.

Read more, and register, on the ODEE Workshops page.

Carmen Help

ODEE's Resource Center provides support materials, videos, and frequently asked questions on the university's online learning technologies. For help with Carmen, see the Carmen Resources page.

Deliver your course

Managing your course once it begins

Whether you're a new or an experienced online instructor, it can be helpful to have a calendar or checklist of the pre-term and ongoing administrative tasks for the course.

Checklist for your first semester teaching online

The following is an overview of some of the key steps for a typical online course.

Before class begins

  • Review your course in Carmen: Check that your content is all in the course and properly set up. Also be sure to verify links and due dates.
  • Week 1 introduction: Record a Week 1 video or audio introduction, and write a Week 1 message in the question-and-answer discussion area.
  • Welcome announcement: Post a welcome announcement as a news item on the course home page.

The first days of class

  • About me: Post your “About me” message on Day 1; follow up at the end of the “About me” thread after most or all students have responded.
  • Tracking students: Contact any student who has not logged in to your course in Carmen; follow up with your academic unit, if necessary. Also reach out to any students who are not yet participating actively.

Throughout the course

  • Weekly video or audio introduction: Record a 1-minute introduction for each week at the end of the preceding week, and post a text version in the question-and-answer discussion area. Use student progress, discussions, and so on as a basis for your message.
  • Updating weekly overviews and announcements: If you make any changes to activities or assignment due dates, be sure to post an announcement. Let students know of any changes you make to the Carmen course while the semester is in progress.
  • Guiding discussions: Check the weekly Questions thread often. Monitor the discussion area and participate as needed to guide discussions. Wrap up discussions as they reach a good stopping point for reflection.
  • Communicating with students: Respond to student e-mails within 1 business day. Establish office hours when students can reach you by phone, CarmenConnect, or quick email.
  • Grades and feedback: Try to return feedback and grades on student assignments within 1 week of submission.

When the course ends

  • End-of-course survey: Remind students to complete the SEI and the distance-education survey, if one is included for your course.
  • Calculate final grades. Use Carmen Gradebook to calculate final grades and submit them. See the ODEE Resource Center for more information.
  • Review and reflect on your course: Look back through your course in Carmen and make note of changes you made or revisions you intend to make

Managing your work load

Managing Online Instructor Workload, Simone C O Conceição; Rosemary M Lehman (print book and e-book available from University Libraries
This short book talks about how online courses involve more work in some areas and less in others compared to a face-to-face course. The authors offer suggestions, some related to course design and others about online time-management strategies.

Remember to utilize the distance education resources listed in the Support section.


ODEE offers a variety of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.


Sign up for our email newsletter to learn about upcoming professional development workshops and webinars.

Universal Design and Accessibility

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) involves a proactive process of designing learning in order to achieve the highest level of functionality and positive user experience for the widest audience possible.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is The Ohio State University's way to ensure quality design for online and hybrid courses. Quality Assurance is built into both the course design and review process. This new customized rubric and set of requirements contain four key pieces:


ODEE partners with the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching to offer workshops.

Resource Center

The ODEE Resource Center is full of materials to help you make the most of the services we provide. Browse the topics or search for something specific.

Contact Us

If you have questions or would like to learn more about bringing a distance education program to life, please reach out to us through our contact form. You can expect to hear from one of our staff members within 1-2 business days.