New Regulations on Online Courses
07/12/2021, 10:00:01 AM
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Dear Faculty Member:

I hope that your summer is going well and that you have had an opportunity to take a break before we begin our transition back to full, in-person campus operations this coming fall. You certainly deserve it!

In preparation for the upcoming academic semester, I would like to make you aware of some recent changes made by the U.S. Department of Education governing online academic courses and programs for which students may use federal financial aid (i.e. Title IV funds) to pay for. These new regulations went into effect on July 1, 2021, and require that all online courses include “regular and substantive interaction between students and their instructors.” 

While these new federal regulations apply equally to online synchronous and asynchronous courses, the focus and impact of these new rules primarily relate to the delivery of online asynchronous courses. In addition, please be aware that the University is subject to audit of its online course offerings by the U.S. Department of Education regarding compliance with these new regulations. 

With that in mind, I am requesting that all faculty instructors review the new regulations as soon as possible in order to ensure that their current and future online courses include elements that meet the definition of the “regular and substantive interaction” requirement. 

To assist in that review, faculty instructors may access a summary of these new regulations on the Power-On Instruction website, including a list of those class elements and/or activities considered to specifically satisfy the “regular and substantive interaction” requirement for online courses. For your convenience, a link to a copy of the full regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education can also be found on the Power-On Instruction website.

Given the diligent efforts of our faculty members in transitioning to a completely online instructional environment during the pandemic, I am confident that the new requirement is already being met. However, I would appreciate your review of the new federal regulations to ensure institutional compliance. 

If you have specific questions concerning the new regulations, or if you need any help in modifying your current online course(s) to comply with the new rules, please contact my staff in either FDIS or the FED. They will be happy to provide you with any assistance you may need. As Provost, I appreciate all that you contribute to the excellent educational experience of our students. 


Paula Myrick Short
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UH System
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, UH
Distinguished Professor of Education | 832.842.0550

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