Online Design & eLearning

Faculty Focused

Physical Presence Through Instruction, Property, Employment & 3rd Party Contracts

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by Mary Lea Moore

Part Three in a Five Part Series on State Authorizationstate-auth-wordle

Follow up on 5 Things to Know About State Authorization at Ole Miss and State Authorization Is Not Only For Online Programs

As shown in the post State Authorization is Not Only For Online Programs, state authorization and physical presence triggers not only apply to online programs but also residential programs with experiential learning activities and the university in general. This post will look into how online programs as well as residential programs can trigger physical presence through instruction, property, employment and 3rd party contracts. It is important to keep in mind that each state has a different interpretation of physical presence and each state has different regulations regarding state authorization.

The instruction side of state authorization is what Online Design & eLearning spends most of our time and efforts reviewing for possible authorization or registration. Examples of instruction include but are not limited to internships, externships, practicums, field experience, clinical placements, and seminars. If a program, online or residential, requires for graduation or awards a grade for a similar instructional activity, state authorization may need to be obtained. Study USA courses also may trigger state authorization.

A few states do not consider property in a state as a physical presence but most states do consider property a trigger. These states define property as equipment (i.e., computers, servers, etc.) as property. States also may consider an instructional sites (ex: classroom) as a physical presence.

Employment is another element to consider for state authorization. Some state regulations require authorization or registration of an institution if a faculty member, full-time or adjunct, teaches while residing in that state. Seems simple enough, but this is still an “it depends” situation. There are states that do consider full-time faculty as a trigger but not adjunct. Mentors and supervisors (ex: site supervisors for instructional activities) also may be triggers.

The final physical presence trigger discussed in this post is 3rd Party Contracts. With increases in online courses and programs, student authentication has become more important. Also, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 brought student authentication into the foreground. Institutions are required to make sure the student enrolled in the course is the student doing the work. One way to achieve student authentication is through proctored testing. Simple enough if all students are near the campus but online education allows students to be located anywhere. This is a challenge for proctoring so institutions turn to testing centers where students are located or online proctoring services like ProctorU. A few states consider these agreements as 3rd party contracts requiring authorization. Other 3rd Party Contracts involve student services (i.e., library, gym, computer centers, etc.).

If your department and program take part in any of these activities, please contact Mary Lea Moore,, 662-915-7089, for more information and to discuss how you can help the University of Mississippi be compliant.