The administrative policies and procedures for online learners are the same as those that govern the on-campus students. For specific information regarding university policies and procedures, including course cancellations and SAU’s internal student complaint resolution procedures, please check:
Southern Arkansas University of Magnolia’s office of Disability Support Services coordinates services and accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure accessibility and usability of all programs, services, and activities. Contact the office located in room 216 of the Donald W. Reynolds building at 870-235-4145. You can also visit the Disability Support Services webpage for information on disability services, eligibility, policies, and procedures.
The university’s learning management system is Blackboard. Blackboard is fully committed to ensuring that the platform contains no barriers for users with disabilities and is both usable and accessible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation. Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility levels using two sets of standards: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued from the United States federal government and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Students who require additional accommodations must first register with Disability Support Services. See more information here.
All U.S. States require post-secondary educational institutions to be legally 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. As such, Southern Arkansas University (SAU) and its online/distance education programs must be authorized in certain states prior to offering those courses or programs to students residing in those states. The purpose of this policy is to create an institutional process to comply with any state authorization requirements applicable to SAU online/distance education programs.
Student attendance in online courses is defined as active participation in the course as described in the individual course syllabus. Online courses will, at a minimum, have weekly mechanisms for student participation no more frequently than daily, which can be documented by any or all of the following methods:
- Completion of tests or quizzes
- Discussion forums
- Submission/completion of assignments
- Communication with the instructor
- Or other course participation
Students are required to log in to each online course by the second day during the week in which the course officially begins, or the day enrolled during late registration to complete the initial introductory postings required in the course. As a component of attendance student email, course announcements and discussion forums should be checked frequently (daily is recommended). The student is solely responsible for checking updates related to the course. Note: nonattendance may affect financial aid. If a student fails to meet the attendance requirements, he or she may be recommended for withdrawal from the course. In the case of an anticipated absence, such as military deployment, the student should contact the instructor in advance and make arrangements to complete the required assignments. In case of an emergency (illness/accident or death in family), a student should contact the instructor as soon as possible providing documentation supporting the need for any late submission of a graded event.
Examination procedures and proctoring policies for online courses vary according to the different colleges and the individual courses. Make sure to check the course syllabus for each individual course on Blackboard after the first day of class for more details. There are currently two proctoring options at SAU:
Respondus Lockdown Browser (RLDB) – Respondus LockDown Browser™ is a customized browser that increases the security of test delivery in Blackboard. When students use Respondus LockDown Browser to access an exam, they are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. Once an assessment is started, students are locked into it until it’s submitted for grading. For a complete list of features, visit the Respondus web site.
Proctor U – ProctorU is a live online exam proctoring service for test takers. The proctors use a three-step process to replicate the face-to-face proctoring experience over the internet. ProctorU service connects the test taker to a real person who they can see and hear. Through this process, the proctors can see the test taker, see what they are doing, and know who they are monitoring. Visit ProtorU’s website to create an account. Once you create an account, a ProctorU representative will contact you about training.
Communication between online students and faculty is critical for student success and retention.
Faculty who teach online or hybrid courses are required to develop a communication policy at the beginning of the semester and post the policy in their online course. Communication policies set expectations for students in the course and may include the following:
- Schedule of availability or “virtual office hours” (Times instructor will be available to answer questions.)
- Email/Blackboard Message response times.
- Instructor responses to discussion posts.
- Grading and Feedback on assignments.
- Statement that learners will receive regular announcements that include reminders and information pertinent to the course.
- “Netiquette” or online etiquette expectations for how students are to communicate online.
When an examination or test of an online course conflicts with a student’s obligation to other regularly scheduled university classes and examinations, the student shall be accorded the opportunity to take the examination or test offered in the online course, at a time not in conflict with other regularly scheduled university classes and examinations.
Reason for Implementation
The purpose of the Quality Assurance (QA) review is to ensure the quality and accessibility of all online and hybrid courses at Southern Arkansas University (as directed by the vision and mission of the University). In addition, all online/hybrid courses at SAU must be reviewed for quality per the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation standards, and the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
Process of Review
Faculty should have courses ready for review by the first class day. Courses will be reviewed by the Office of Online Learning (OOL) at SAU during the first four weeks of the semester, on a four-year rotation (see schedule below) using the SAU Quality Assurance Checklist Draft Revised 9-20-2018. The Quality Assurance checklist must be completed during the academic year specified in the schedule below.
Dean and Director of Online Learning
|Fall 2019||Determined by|
Dean and Director of Online Learning
|Business||” “||Fall 2020||” “||Spring 2021|
|Science and Engineering||” “||Fall 2021||” “||Spring 2022|
|Liberal and Performing Arts||” “||Fall 2022||” “||Spring 2023|
Course review results will be sent to the course Instructors, Department chairs, and Deans via email.
- If a course does not meet QA Standards, the instructor will make needed revisions by mid-term of the designated academic semester.
- The Director of Online Learning will provide the following support to the course instructor and department as needed.
- Suggested “improvements” (list of shortcomings) to the instructor and department chair.
- Recommend a faculty member, who has completed the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) course, to work with the instructor.
- Provide a sample approved course that meets all the standards.
- Approved courses will be designated as such for planning purposes before the next semester schedules are due.
Faculty who have taught online courses for SAU prior to Fall 2018 (including part-time faculty)
Effective Fall 2018, faculty with previous online experience at SAU assigned to teach an online course(s) must complete the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) online course or the Quality Matters Self Review within one year of being assigned an online course in order to continue teaching online courses.
Faculty who have not taught online courses for SAU prior to Fall 2018 (including part-time faculty) assigned to teach an online course(s) must complete the APPQMR Certification either before teaching online or within the first year of teaching an online course.
Exception: Faculty not meeting these qualifications may facilitate a course designed by APPQMR trained faculty/team.
The SAU QM Coordinator will provide the Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) with an annual listing of all APPQMR certified and review assisted faculty. APPQMR certified faculty are also listed on the Online Learning website.
Southern Arkansas University (SAU) is a degree-granting institution that is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) provides the nation with a state wide process to expand the opportunities for educational achievement of people by aligning standards and practices across states and creating processes to effectively address quality in online and distance education programs while reducing costs to states, institutions and consumers.
Southern Arkansas University became a member of NC SARA in 2015. Membership in SARA allows Southern Arkansas University to offer distance education courses in other SARA states without having to obtain approval from each state.
The following states are authorized members of SARA:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawai’i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Information regarding the complaint process can be found at NC – SARA and Students.
No State or accrediting agency has initiated adverse actions against Southern Arkansas University.
Important information for prospective and currently enrolled students: SARA does not include provisions for state professional licensing requirements. It is highly recommended that you contact the licensing board in your state before starting an academic program. Academic programs and graduating students must satisfy standards that are established by that state’s licensing requirements to be eligible for a license.
Accreditation and State Authorization
Southern Arkansas University is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to award associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Contact Higher Learning Commission at 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1411, or call 800.621.7440 for questions about the accreditation of Southern Arkansas University. The Commission is to be contacted only if evidence appears to support an institution’s significant non-compliance with a requirement or standard.
State Contact Information
To ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrity Rules, Southern Arkansas University must provide out-of-state distance learning students and out-of-state prospective students with the contact information and complaint filing process for each state’s licensing board and any other agency that would be responsible for the complaint.
Out-of-state online students should be contacting only SAU and ADHE. All complaints by out-of-state online students will be resolved by SAU and/or ADHE, not by the student’s home state. If a complaint is not resolved by SAU, a student can appeal to ADHE using this form: https://www.adhe.edu/students-parents/colleges-universites/student-grievance-form/
Although students may use their own state’s SARA office to resolve a complaint, the SARA office in the state where the institution is located is responsible for staffing and investigating and resolving the complaint. Students classified as “in state” may not use SARA to complain about distance education courses offered inside the state, only those offered outside the state.