Distance Education Policy

Approved By Date
Board of Trustees 10-19-2023
Executive Leadership Team 08-28-2023
ICORE 08-22-2023

To support the mission of the College, Stanly Community College (SCC or the College) has chosen to offer distance learning courses and programs when deemed appropriate. Courses in all formats meet uniform academic requirements and quality standards. 

Verifying the identity of the student accessing and participating in an online course is fundamental to the integrity of the course as well as the College. In addition, SCC’s accrediting agencies require a consistent procedure to ensure student identity within the online course. SCC satisfies these standards with the use of a unique student username and password.

SCC rules, policies, and procedures apply to students of all educational courses and programs of the institution, regardless of mode of delivery, in alignment with the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Commission On Colleges (SACSCOC) Principles of Accreditation. The College will ensure that all prospective and current distance learning (online and hybrid) students have access to courses, services and support as necessary for success. 

Online students are encouraged to review all college policies and rules. Out-of-state students should pay special attention to the College’s State Authorization Policy.

Distance Education Procedures

Approved By Date
Executive Leadership Team 08-28-2023
ICORE 08-22-2023

In support of the College mission, Stanly Community College offers distance learning courses and programs as deemed appropriate. Distance education is when part, or all, of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Said instruction may be synchronous (interaction occurring at the same time) or asynchronous (interaction occurring at different points in time).

Course Delivery Methods

The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges Code defines delivery methods as follows:

  1. “Traditional Instruction” – College curriculum or continuing education course in which 100% of the instruction is delivered face to face with the instructor in the physical presence of students.
  2. “Online Instruction” – College curriculum or continuing education course in which 100% of the instruction is delivered online.
  3. “Hybrid Instruction” – College curriculum or continuing education course in which greater than 50%, but less than 100% of the instruction is delivered online.
  4. “Blended Instruction” – College curriculum or continuing education course in which less than or equal to 50% of the instruction is delivered online.
  5. “Hybrid Flexible (HyFlex)” – A multi-modal instructional delivery method where the college has the option to deliver the online portion of a curriculum course synchronously, asynchronously, or both as long as 100% of the instruction is offered face to face with the instructor in a physical classroom. Students may choose to attend the regularly scheduled in-person session or the online option on a session-by-session basis.

Stanly Community College also uses the following course codes (as of 2021):

  • Cooperative Education - Instruction consisting of the integration of traditional classroom learning with supervised work experience and where there is no Internet requirement. There may be an internet requirement for non-instructional paperwork or documentation submission.
  • Independent Study- Self-paced course in which a student progresses through the instructional materials at their own pace, regardless of method of delivery. Instructor contact times with the student must be documented and submitted with the roster.

State Authorization Status for Out-of-State Students

Federal and state regulations require that all institutions of higher education comply with existing state laws regarding distance learning. As these regulations are continuously evolving, SCC makes every effort to maintain compliance where feasible. SCC works with the regulatory agencies in each state and US Territories to seek authorizations, exemptions, or permissions to continue to offer distance education programs, courses, and certificate programs to residents who wish to enroll in our distance learning education offerings.

Admission of out of state resident applicants to an online degree, certificate program or individual online course offered by SCC, is dependent on the College’s ability to secure authorization from the applicant's state of residence.

Please view the SCC State Authorization website for additional information.

Requirements and Standards

All distance learning courses offered at Stanly Community College meet the same academic requirements and quality standards as web-enhanced and traditional, in-person courses. These courses are also consistent with the level and nature of the department by which they are offered and the mission of the College.

Courses offered via distance learning carry the same course number, title, and credit as other sections of the course. Online students will access course organization, content, and delivery through an online course management system.

To enroll in distance learning courses, students must meet the College’s admission criteria, including any special admissions guidelines for programs, and any special course requirements such as pre- or co-requisites.

Online Access to Student Admissions

SCC will ensure that all prospective online students have equal access to admission services. Prospective students will be able to access and complete all steps of the admissions process online. 

The SCC website will provide prominent links to an online admissions process that includes but is not limited to the following: 

  • Conditional letter. When the online application has been accepted and the new student's record has been created, the student will receive a conditional letter of acceptance that informs the student of items needed to complete the admissions process. The conditional letter will also include information to assist the online student in accessing Self-Service, student email accounts, the SCC Help Desk, advising, and the Eagle's 1 Stop. 
  • Placement requirements. Individuals who have no other course placement to meet prerequisite requirements and have been conditionally accepted to SCC may satisfy the requirement by taking an approved placement test at another community college and forwarding the official scores to SCC. See the current college catalog for minimum requirements.
  • Evaluation of transfer credits and appeal process. Transcripts for online students will be evaluated and processed in the same manner as all other students. The online student will be advised of the process for appealing the evaluation of transfer credits. The appeal form will be available on the SCC website and may be submitted by email. 

Verifying Student Identity in Online Courses

Each student, upon admission to SCC, is assigned a permanent student number and a unique username. The student number is generated when the student’s application information is entered into Datatel. The Datatel student number is then used by local IT servers to generate a unique user ID that is placed into SCC’s active directory. The username uses a protocol that includes the first initial of the first name plus the last name plus the last four digits of the student ID number (e.g., jdoe1234). This unique username, coupled with a student managed password, is used in order to securely log in and gain access to the online course management system as well as the online student service registration and records portal.

SCC also utilizes a single sign-on model of authentication. Students manage a single username and password and login at a single point of entry to access most services within the college including their student email account and LMS access. The password for their unique username is set to force change periodically and can also be reset by the student automatically through the Tech Support webpage at the top of https://www.stanly.edu. To change a password, students must provide either their full student number or the last four digits of their social security number in addition to their username, first name, last name and birth date. Additional cybersecurity is in place through the use of multi-factor authentication on SCC accounts. The SCC Tech Support helpdesk is available to assist with log-in and technical support.

Faculty teaching either an online or hybrid course also have the autonomy to add additional layers of student verification within their courses through the incorporation of components that can include the on-site proctoring of tests, online test proctoring using Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor, and synchronous web conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts.

Online Interaction and Engagement

In alignment with SCC online instructional standards, each distance learning course ensures regular and substantial, education-focused interaction and timely feedback between students and the instructor. As appropriate, these interactions may be individual, group, or mixed, and they may take place electronically (e.g., by text, audio, or interactive video). 

Standards for student engagement and success, as well as instructor procedures and requirements for instruction and feedback, are rigorous regardless of course delivery method.

Documenting Student Participation in Online Classes - Curriculum Course Rule

Every online instructor must properly verify and document student attendance and participation in each online course that the instructor teaches. In addition to ensuring the integrity of the registration process, such documentation is also used for registration and financial aid audits, as well as in determining FTE funding for the college; therefore, these procedures are vital to college operations. In alignment with the Class Attendance Policy, and the Drop/Add, Never Attended, Withdrawal Policy, the following procedures will ensure proper documentation: 

  • Instructors will document student attendance two times during each semester: at the census date (10% point) of the course and at the end of the course with final grade submission. 
  • No later than 24 hours after the census date, the instructor must indicate on the official course roster the date the student completed the first academic activity.  
  • Students who have not actively participated in the course by 11:59 p.m. on the census date will be marked as Never Attended in Self-Service by the instructor.  
  • The instructor will enter final grades for the active students no later than 24 hours past the end date of the course.

Documenting Student Participation in Online Classes - Continuing Education Courses

  • Instructors will document student attendance two times during each semester: at the census date (10% point) of the course and at the end of the course with final grade submission. 
  • Students who have not attended at least one class meeting or engaged in an online component of the class on or before 11:59 p.m. on the census date (10% point) will be marked as Never Attended in Self-Service by the instructor.

Minimum Expectations for Class Attendance

  • Any curriculum student who is absent for a consecutive and prolonged period of time regardless of contact with the instructor will be withdrawn. See the Class Attendance Policy for more details.
  • Continuing Education students must attend at least 80% of the course to receive credit. See the Class Attendance Policy for more details.
  • Remember that some classes/programs may specify stricter attendance policies. Please refer to the course syllabus for more information.

The instructor of the course is responsible for properly documenting student attendance and participation. 

Access to College Services

Each student enrolled in distance learning courses has access to all academic support services, instructional equipment, campus events, and other non-academic activities that SCC provides for other students. Support services may include, but are not limited to, Success Coaches and academic advising, counseling, tutoring, financial aid, food pantry, services for disabilities, and library resources and services. All students, including distance learning students, have access to the many SCC services that are available in person and/or electronically. The College will make arrangements to provide support for students as appropriate.

Applicability of Policies, Rules, Guidelines, and Procedures

Unless otherwise indicated, all Stanly Community College Board of Trustees, regional accrediting agency, and institutional policies, rules, procedures, standards, and guidelines are college-wide and still apply to distance learning students and instruction. Applicable SCC policies and rules that may be found in the SCC Course Catalog and website include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic Freedom
  • Academic Integrity
  • Anti-Harassment/Discrimination
  • Class Attendance Policy
  • Computer and Network Use
  • Continuing Education Accountability & Credibility Policy
  • Curriculum Credit Hour
  • Drop/Add, Never Attend, Withdrawal
  • Faculty Credentials
  • Field Trip
  • Grade
  • Netiquette
  • Multiple Measures for Placement
  • Public Release of Information
  • Resident Classification for Tuition Purposes Policy State Authorization
  • Student Code of Conduct
  • Student Grievance
  • Verifying Student Identity in Online Courses

Funding of Distance Education 

Distance learning courses are considered along with other courses offered by all departments during budgeting and allocation processes of the institution. No distinction is made between credit hours through online, blended, and web-enhanced courses when calculating student enrollment. No distinction is made between online, blended, and web-enhanced courses when calculating faculty teaching loads. Student tuition and fees are set by the North Carolina Community College System and Stanly Community College by program/course but are not affected by the course’s delivery method.

Student Capacity in Online Curriculum Courses

All online courses at SCC will be limited to a maximum of twenty-five (25) students. If additional students wish to enroll in the course, the Program Head will consult with the Dean or Associate Vice President (AVP) to determine if an additional section may be opened. In unusual circumstances the Dean or AVP may approve an override of the cap of 25 students; however, it is preferable to open a new course section when it is reasonable to assume the additional section will fill. Efficient management of the course section offerings as well as the ability to provide quality instruction should be carefully considered when deciding to open additional sections. 


Distance learning courses are offered through the appropriate academic department or division. Each academic department/division is responsible for academic development, delivery, and assessment of online, hybrid, blended, and hyflex courses. Each academic division/department determines the format for course delivery based on what is considered appropriate and in the best interest of students. Subject matter, student learning outcomes, and technologies required are considered when determining course delivery format. Academic supervisors and faculty members are responsible for ensuring high quality content, delivery, and assessment of all courses, regardless of the delivery method.

The Center for Teaching and Learning facilitates the process by providing online standards, administration and management of the Learning Management System (LMS) - Canvas, integration procedures between the LMS and other SCC systems, and providing faculty and student support via Canvas Support through SCC Tech Support. 

The College uses the same process for selection and appointment of faculty for all delivery methods of courses. This is carried out by the respective academic supervisors in collaboration with the Human Resources Department. Faculty teaching distance learning courses must meet equal academic credentialing criteria as outlined in the SCC Faculty Credentials Policy. Faculty teaching distance learning courses are provided with appropriate support and resources regarding the use of SCC’s Learning Management System.

SCC makes the following academic and administrative information available to all students through the College website via Calendar, within Self-Service, and/or within the course syllabus: course start and end dates, course withdrawal dates, academic and non-academic support services, registration and fee-payment timelines and procedures, student-faculty interaction opportunities and requirements, course grading procedures, course schedule, required and/or optional textbook and resources, required third-party sites or products (if applicable), and exam proctoring (if applicable).


  • Class Attendance Policy 
  •  Drop/Add, Never Attended, Withdrawal Policy
  • Multiple Measures for Placement Policy and Procedures
  • Rosters and Documentation Policy and Procedures
  • SCC Warehouse Codes Rule
  • State Authorization Policy


  • SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Core Requirement 2.10 
  • SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Comprehensive Standards 3.4.9
  • SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Comprehensive Standards 3.9.3 
  • SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Standard 14.3
  • SACSCOC Distance and Correspondence Education Policy and accompanying guidelines
  • State Board of Community Colleges, 1B SBCCC 100.1 (Definitions)