Skip to main content
Femal instructor with her hair pulled back in a ponytail writes notes on a chalkboard as she teaches a class.

Course Quality (for Online)

New US Department of Education (DoE) regulatory definitions of distance education require that institutions ensure regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between a student and an instructor(s).*

A odometer gauge is used as a metaphor to show correspondence education, with very little student interaction on the "red" side of the dial. While Distance education with high levels of interaction is shown on the "green" side of the dial.**RSI Image from SUNY Online

Compliance with the US DoE regulations***

Regulations After July 1, 2021
Interaction Mostly instructor initiated, or GA in some instances
Instructor Explicit reliance on accreditor approval
Substantive Has a list of activities (direct instruction - not recorded videos, assessment, feedback - not autograding, tutoring, answering questions, office hours, etc.)
Regular Regular, predictable and scheduled, and tracking and intervention

What RSI Means

An emphasis on regular and substantive interaction is entirely consistent with well-documented research-based effective practices in online course design and delivery. In online teaching and learning environments of any kind, (asynchronous, synchronous, blended/hybrid), regular and substantive interactions must:

  • Be with an instructor as defined by the institution’s accreditor.
  • Be initiated by the instructor.
  • Be scheduled and predictable.
  • Be academic in nature and relevant to the course.
  • Substantive interaction assumes direct interaction between the learner and the instructor and requires direct instruction from the instructor including:
    • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework.
    • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course.
    • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency.
    • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.**

Need Assistance?

Instructional and Learning Experience Designers in the TLTC, are well versed with the design strategies and quality rubrics to ensure these federal standards are met. Choose from the options below to get the help you need:

Back to Top