Distance Education Policies
College of Athens recognizes the value of online education in advancing its mission “to be a biblically-grounded, Holy Spirit-empowered, accredited Christian college that prepares men and women who will teach, reach, lead, and minister to others out of their identity in Christ through relational, hands-on training for life and leadership in the church, in the marketplace, and across the globe.” As such, the College is committed to providing high quality online education to a diverse population of learners with a wide range of needs.
The Online Education Policy applies to all faculty and staff engaged in the delivery of online education courses or programs, and students registering for, enrolled in, and receiving credit for online education courses or programs. The responsibility and authority for adherence to this policy resides with the Chief Academic Officer, who shares that responsibility with department chairs and faculty, as appropriate.
The Strategic Vision for Online Education aligns with the CoA mission to prepare men and women to teach, reach, lead, and minister across the globe. CoA will deliver an online educational experience that tailors coursework to meet individual needs and maintains the quality of the CoA experience for diverse student populations in a variety of geographic locations. As part of its mission, CoA is committed to provide adequate funding for faculty, staff, services, and technological infrastructure to support the distance education program.
Student Verification in Online Learning
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires institutions that offer credit bearing online learning courses verify that the student who registers for an online learning course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives academic credit. According to the HEOA, one or more of the following methods must be used:
Each CoA student is assigned a unique student identification number and password to log in to Populi and CoA email systems. Accounts are for individual use only and are not transferable or to be used by any other individual. Students will also be required to provide government-approved photo identification upon enrollment.
Student Enrollment Agreement
With the exception of CoA Public Health Policies, all policies contained within the CoA Student Enrollment Agreement apply to all students regardless of the enrollment modality (e.g., in-person, online, or blended courses).
State Authorization for Online Learning
The U.S. Department of Education requires higher education institutions to be authorized to provide post-secondary educational instruction in their states. Many of these state laws and regulations also apply to online, distance, and correspondence educational instruction offered in that state.
College of Athens abides by all requirements of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). SARA is an agreement among member states, districts, and territories of the United States. It establishes national standards for the interstate offering of distance education courses and programs. It simplifies the process of taking online classes at an institution of higher education based in another state. CoA cannot offer online courses and programs in states that do not have SARA approval, unless CoA has received separate approval from that state. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is one of four regional education compacts and is the compact that administers SARA for institutions located in Georgia. A national council (NC-SARA) oversees SARA and the regional compacts. College of Athens was approved by the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC) to participate in SARA and became a SARA institution in September 2020.
CoA is required to provide current and prospective online learning students with contact information for filing complaints. Students who desire to resolve a grievance should follow the steps outlined in the College’s Complaint, Grievance, & Due Process Policy. Students are made aware of the process for filing a complaint related to a Distance Education course at New Student Orientation. Click here to complete a new CoA Complaint Procedure Form.
If a student is not satisfied with the outcome of this process, they may appeal to the State of Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC). Georgia residents can appeal through the GNPEC Student Complaints process. Students residing in another state may appeal through the Georgia SARA portal agency.
The SARA portal agency in the student’s state of residence will be notified of any complaint filed with the Georgia portal agency. The student’s home state may assist the Georgia portal agency as needed. The complaint resolution by the Georgia portal agency is final and cannot be appealed to another state or federal agency or to NC-SARA.
Students who graduate with a degree from the College of Athens will be well prepared as Christian leaders in their respective majors. CoA programs are not designed to meet specific professional licensure requirements in any state. Students who wish to meet a specific professional licensure (e.g., divinity ordination, teaching certificate) should contact the particular licensing agencies and subsequently communicate with their Academic Advisor to help tailor their coursework to satisfy any requirements beyond the completion of their CoA degree.
The official learning management system (LMS) at CoA is Microsoft 365. Students who need accommodations because of a verifiable disability, and need assistance in obtaining accommodations, should notify the College Administration office of such need. College of Athens will provide accommodations and/or services as is both reasonable and required by federal and/or state law.
Copyright Compliance and Intellectual Property
It is the policy of College of Athens to acknowledge and abide by all applicable intellectual property laws. The College expects that all staff, faculty, and students using the facilities or resources of the College shall do the same. The ownership of all distance education materials, software, and course content resides with the College. Materials created by faculty or students directly related to or for the purpose of course instruction may not be used or sold without written permission from the owner of the materials.
Instruction & Curriculum
The faculty maintains primary responsibility for and exercises oversight of CoA’s distance education program to ensure the quality of instruction and alignment with CoA’s program objectives. Appropriately credentialed faculty are responsible for the design, development, implementation, and revision of all online courses/programs.
Ownership of Materials
The ownership of all distance education materials, software, and content resides with the College.
All academic programs, regardless of delivery mode, engage in institutional assessment efforts, including annual reports, annual continuous improvement reports, and academic program reviews or accreditation reviews, as appropriate.
Library and Learning Resources
Distance education students have access to comparable library and learning resources as campus-based students through the use of an electronic collection from Logos Bible Software as well as access to the GALILEO Online Library Resource sponsored by the University System of Georgia with over 100 databases of scholarly work. Faculty and students may access Populi, Office 365, and Galileo databases from their own devices at any time and from any location. Faculty and Students may also contact the CoA Library Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time for assistance in identifying resources suitable for research and coursework.
Students enrolled in online education courses/programs have access to services comparable to those provided for students in campus-based courses/programs. All new students are required to attend New Student Orientation where they will be made familiar with the services available to them. Further, Distance Education students full have access to information on library/learning resources, financial aid, course registration, academic calendar, etc. via: collegeofathens.edu, Populi, and/or Microsoft 365 online. All Distance Education students are assigned an Academic Advisor for the duration of their programs.
Faculty are responsible for the integrity of all content used in online course materials, including accuracy, currency, and compliance with laws regarding copyright. They are expected to follow all aspects of the Copyright Policy.
Prior to teaching an online or course, faculty members are required to demonstrate the requisite skills and knowledge needed to effectively deliver the curriculum. Requisite skills can be demonstrated in 3 ways:
Catastrophic Event Policies
The Student, Faculty, and Employee Handbooks inform on-campus occupants how to react in an emergency. Emergency exit plans are posted in the classroom, administrative office, and Library. In the event of larger scale national disasters, CoA will follow the policies and best practices set forth for both in-person and online instruction by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges & Schools (TRACS), NC-SARA, and the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC).
Online Attendance Policy
Regular attendance is an important contributor to student success in online courses. Student attendance in Distance Education courses is defined as active participation in the course as described in the course syllabus. For online classes, attendance will be monitored by timely submission of assignments, assessments/exams, discussion board entries, and so forth. A student is expected to complete such assignments by the appropriate due date. Failure to complete such assignments by the due date will be recorded as an absence.
Further, all CoA courses require a minimum of 2 hours of synchronous virtual course meetings for each credit hour. The in-person virtual course meeting times will be published online prior to registration. Students who register for a Distance Education that offers the minimum number of synchronous course meeting hours must ensure that they can attend 100% of the scheduled synchronous virtual meetings prior to course enrollment.
Courses taught virtually via a 100% synchronous class meeting schedule are subject to CoA’s attendance requirement. Missing more than 25% of the scheduled class meetings will result in an automatic failure of the class.
Students on financial aid programs are responsible for knowing attendance requirements of their programs. Failure to attend may impact a student’s ability to qualify for financial aid. If students find that they cannot meet the class’s minimum activity requirements due to any circumstance, they are asked to contact their course instructor(s) as soon as possible.
Frequent Site Visitation
Students should log into the course page on a regular basis to keep informed of all course related announcements, activities, and so forth. Each course page will indicate the required frequency for logging into the course page. The course page will indicate deadlines for submitting student work. Students are encouraged to turn on notifications for updated course materials and information.
Students are responsible for submitting files free of corruption and computer viruses. Any file that does not pass the school’s virus-check software will not be opened and will be returned to the student. Corrupted files will not count as an assignment submission, and it is incumbent upon students to resubmit a new file by the assignment due date.
Excessive emails (e.g., more than 2 or 3 in a 24-hour period) make unreasonable time demands on both sender and recipient. Students must ensure they have a legitimate need before they write.
Appropriate subjects for emails to instructor:
Your instructor will not answer emails which:
Your instructor will answer emails within 24 hours of a normal workday, Monday through Friday.
Distance Education students are never required to post photographs and other personal information on a course site, such as in getting-to-know-each-other activities. Any activities of this sort are strictly voluntary. Also, references to personal traits such as race, ethnicity, disabilities, age, and gender may only be made public only if a student initiates the actions to do so.
Distance Education Students are responsible for ensuring that they have sufficient technology to accomplish their academic program well. The Technology Requirements are as follows:
Computer or Tablet with:
Internet Connectivity Requirements
A Broadband Internet Connection (10 Mbs or faster) is required
Technical Support Policy
Appropriate Online Behavior
Each student is expected to demonstrate behavior in accordance with the CoA Expectations for Christian Conduct when working online on Discussion Board posts, virtual assignments, and any other digital interaction. The student is expected to interact with other students in a fashion that will promote learning and respect for the opinions of others in the course. A spirit of Christian charity will be expected at all times in the online environment.
Student and instructor responses in online discussion posts must comply with the CoA Expectations for Christian Conduct.
Students are expected to become familiar with and to abide by all course policies set forth in the syllabus and/or through the course site. Ignorance of course policies published on the course page or in the course syllabus is not a viable excuse for violating one of those policies. Students are responsible for reading and following all published course policies. Exceptions to the above-stated course policies may be made in special cases at the instructor’s sole discretion.