What is an online course?
UC defines an online course as one in which more than 50% of the course's primary instruction is conducted through Internet-based methods with time and/or distance separating teacher and student. Courses that meet this criteria must comply with the University's policy for online courses.
Online courses are approved in two steps
Institutions developing their own online courses will follow the two-step "a-g" online course approval process. Online courses are approved for a three-year term to ensure their quality and required components are maintained. Every three years, online course must be complete the two-step approval process.
1. Assessment against iNACOL course standards.
Online courses intending to receive “a-g” approval must be assessed against the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses before submission to UC. The course will either be certified by CLRN or the institution will conduct a self-assessment of the online course.
2. Review by UC for “a-g” approval.
During the annual course list update cycle, CLRN-certified or self-assessed online courses may be submitted to UC for “a-g” review using the Online Update website. Online courses are evaluated using the same criteria and guidelines as classroom-based courses.
Satisfying the “a-g” subject requirements
Students can use online courses to fulfill their “a-g” subject requirements in the following ways:
High school purchases UC-approved online courses
High schools that offer UC-approved online courses purchased or licensed from an online course publisher will add these courses to their “a-g” course list as previously approved courses. Schools are responsible for first verifying the courses appear on the publisher’s “a-g” course list and certifying their school is in compliance with the University's online learning expectations before the online courses are added to the school’s “a-g” course list.
UC awards a three-year approval term to courses from online publishers. Every three years, the publisher will be required to reassess their courses against the iNACOL Quality Standards for Online Courses and to resubmit their courses to UC for "a-g" review. However, no additional action will be required every three years of schools that purchase or license these courses.
High school develops non-commercial online courses
Non-commercial online courses created by online or non-online institutions will undergo the new two-step online course review process to receive UC-approval. The online course must first be self-assessed against the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Courses and then submitted for “a-g” review by UC. In addition, non-online institutions will also need to adhere to the University’s institutional expectations for online learning.
All online courses are approved for a three-year term. Every three years, the non-commercial online courses will need to be re-assessed by the institution against the iNACOL course standards and then resubmitted to UC for "a-g" review. The Online Update website will notify the institution when a course’s “a-g” approval will expire.
Student independently enrolls in UC-approved online courses
A student can enroll independently in a UC-approved online course. Check the online school’s “a-g” course list to verify which courses have been approved for “a-g” purposes. On the UC application, students will list separately each online school from which they completed “a-g” courses. Official transcripts from the online school must be either sent to the student’s home high school to be added to the student’s record, or sent to the student’s matriculated UC campus in July.
Principal certifies online courses*
The principal of a student’s home high school may certify non-UC-approved online courses from an outside institution to satisfy the “a-g” subject requirements. UC expects that such certification follows a careful review of the curriculum and/or testing of ability level by the principal, department chair, district curriculum director or other qualified school or district personnel determining that the online curriculum is comparable to other college-preparatory courses at the high school. The principal designates certification by granting permission for the course to be listed on the student's transcript, along with credits granted and grades earned.
*Important Note: Using principal certification to fulfill the “a-g” subject requirements is only acceptable for non-UC-approved online courses completed through the 2012-13 academic year. The principal certification process for online courses cannot be used for the laboratory science (“d”) and visual and performing arts (“f”) subject areas.
Online courses in the laboratory sciences and visual and performing arts
UC faculty consider the experimentation process a critical component of any laboratory science course because it brings the scientific process to life. Therefore, online laboratory science (“d”) courses will be approved by UC if they include a supervised, on-site, wet lab component that accounts for at least 20 percent of class time. Computer-simulated labs and lab kits are currently not an acceptable alternative to the required wet labs.
An online publisher can receive provisional UC "a-g" approval for their online laboratory science courses that do not contain an appropriate laboratory component. When adding a publisher's provisionally-approved online laboratory science course to an "a-g" course list, online and non-online institutions will be required to include in their previously approved course submission a description of the on-site, wet labs they have developed to supplement the online curriculum.
Online high school-level visual and performing arts (“f”) courses will not be approved because it is difficult for students taking online courses in this subject area to experience the required performance component of performance arts courses and/or replicate the expected portfolio component of visual arts courses. The UC faculty believe that performance and creative expression are necessary component of any visual and performance arts course. Whether it is a course in band, choir, drama, dance or painting/drawing, the immediate feedback and coaching of an instructor (e.g., adjusting the toe point of a dancer, correcting the musical intonation of a student musician, advising greater voice projection for a student actor or demonstrating correct technique for a student artist) is a critical and necessary component.
Students can pursue other options to satisfy the “d” and “f” subject requirements, such as earning a satisfactory score on an SAT Subject, AP or IB exam or enrolling in a UC-transferable community college course.