Teaching and Learning Resource Center

Course Assurance

The Office of Academic Affairs worked with each academic unit to support a process ensuring courses taught during the 2020-21 academic year have met a set of core best practices for online delivery, based on priorities related to accreditation, federal regulations, and student experience and access. For the 2021-22 academic year, each college will follow its own curriculum approval process.

Based on input from all colleges and campuses, the following process for temporary Distance Learning approval was developed and implemented.


  • This process applies to Distance Learning (DL) courses only – not in-person (P), hybrid (HY) or distance enhanced (DH) courses.
  • All courses with temporary DL status will maintain that status through the entire 2020-21 academic year.
  • Each course will only need to be approved once for temporary DL status. Courses being offered on multiple campuses will not, for example, require multiple submissions.

Course Expectations

  • Include regular and substantive academic interactions with the instructor. A course with only readings and assessments does not meet the legal requirement of an online course at Ohio State.
  • Require a participation activity at least once per week. When providing students with new material, build in some interaction or activity around it, just as you would in an in-person class session. This weekly participation is necessary for being able to determine a student's last days of attendance for the purposes of financial aid.
  • Ensure instruction time is equivalent to an in-person class of the same credit hours. An online course should not be any harder or easier than if it were offered in-person. The learning outcomes and rigor should be the same.
  • Include expectations about the format and modality of the course in the syllabus. Be explicit about how students are going to engage with the course (e.g., synchronous, asynchronous) and provide specific dates and times upfront.
  • Include online-specific policies about academic integrity in the syllabus for all major assignments.
  • Use the Carmen Key practices for a consistent student experience.
  • Consider basic accessibility considerations in support of students with disabilities and their protected access to instruction.
  • Adapt materials and activities for online learning. Each week should include ways for students to practice or engage with the material in the context of a fully-online learning experience.
  • Make assignments and assessments appropriate and practicable for online learning. For more information see the resources on adapting assessments

Course Assurance Process

Colleges and schools will each organize an expedited review process for any course that needs approval to change the delivery mode to online (DL) during the 2020-21 academic year. College’s expedited review processes will be based on their established curricular review processes.

There will be a syllabus review, based on a finalized Online Course Assurance form and course syllabus for each course, facilitated through your college’s expedited review process. Information about where and when to submit the materials will come from your college leaders.

If you have questions about this process, please consult the FAQ or contact your college’s associate dean for curriculum.

Download Course Assurance Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Which courses need to go through the assurance process?

This assurance process applies to any course that does not already have an approved Distance Learning offering and did not receive approval for DL offering in Summer 2020 or during the 2020-21 academic year. Dissertation research, independent study and similar credits need not be reviewed. Each college has the official course roster and a list of which courses need to go through the assurance process. Contact your college’s associate dean for curriculum if you have questions about a specific course.

Why is the process restricted to the 2020-2021 academic year?

Offering courses at a distance usually requires curriculum committee approvals to help ensure that an online class meets specific regulatory and accreditation requirements as well as other considerations related to the integrity of the class in this mode of delivery.

Because of the substantial increase in the number of courses offered at a distance during the 2020-21 academic year, the Office of Academic Affairs has worked with the college curricular deans to support an expedited assurance process that focuses on the most urgent and manageable of those considerations. The Online Course Assurance form does not grant ongoing approval for Distance Learning delivery beyond this academic year but should give instructors a meaningful head start toward their college’s full approval process for later terms.

How will credit-hour calculations be reviewed?

The portion of the Online Course Assurance form on credit-hour equivalency is meant to ensure that instructors have a framework for considering workload and instructional expectations when the specific teaching methods and student activities may be different from an in-person version.

The hour estimates in the form will be useful as a rough total; a comparison to an in-person version may be helpful as well. The most important consideration is that the instruction and activities prepare students to be able to meet the same learning outcomes at an equivalent level.