Distance Education and NonTraditional Programs

<< Faculty Services Overview

RODP Course Development

Getting Started
Course Proposal Process
Course Development
Course Development Fees
Faculty Hiring and Required Training
Instructional Resources
Instructional Best Practices


The Tennessee Board of Regents technology centers, community colleges, and universities have joined in a collaborative, strategic planning effort to offer the Regents Online Degree Programs (RODP). The thirteen two-year community colleges deliver and award associate degrees, and the six TBR universities deliver and award bachelor and master's degrees.

RODP courses are entirely online and transferable among all the participating institutions. Students may choose the college or university (home school) through which the admission and registration processes are completed and from which their degrees are awarded.

"The Regents Online Campus Collaborative (ROCC) works from a Master Course model in which a single course is developed and then taught by multiple instructors from multiple institutions. A course is approved for development by a Curriculum Committee, developed by a subject matter expert, and sent through a Quality Review process for final approval. Once approved, the developed course becomes the Master Course Copy of that specific course. The Master Course Copy is never used for instruction. It is used simply as an original version of the course which is kept updated as the most recent and relevant copy of the course." (ROCC website)

MTSU's RODP course definition:

  • TBR/RODP Curriculum Committee approves courses for development
  • All class instruction takes place in an online environment
  • RODP determines number of course sections offered each semester
  • Instructors can require that students take two proctored exams
  • R50 is the course section number
  • Banner only displays the R50 section of RODP courses
  • Students from all TBR institutions may register for courses
  • Course access for faculty and students is through the RODP elearn website and not through Pipeline or MTSU's elearn site
  • Courses are developed using the RODP template and are housed on the RODP server
  • RODP course tuition/fees are higher
  • Courses are reviewed and approved by the RODP
  • Development and redesign fees apply

Faculty wishing to participate in the RODP may find information at the RODP website, or they may call the MTSU Distance Education Faculty Services Office at 615/904-8276.


RODP Course Developer

  • Sign/submit required proposal and supporting documents.
  • Sign/submit contract for development and delivery of course.
  • Submit faculty credentials to the Provost's Office, if needed.
  • Complete required training in preparation for course development.
  • Complete course development per RODP standards and submit for review/approval.
  • Notify D. E. Faculty Services when course is approved for delivery.
  • Update the course prior to the beginning of each semester.
  • Continually make course improvements by collaborating with sectional instructors and considering student suggestions.
  • Search for relevant content and resources to enhance the course and enrich student learning experiences.
  • Recruit and prepare colleagues and/or adjunct faculty for course instruction, especially when enrollment increases create additional course sections.


  • Approve course proposal form
  • Approve TBR contract when course is approved for development.
  • Plan to staff all course sections as determined by the RODP. Courses on semester rotation are the exception.
  • Developing institutions are eligible to staff at least the first six sections of courses developed by their faculty.
  • If a developing institution cannot staff a course, it is offered to qualified instructors at all other four-year TBR universities.

Distance Education Faculty Services

  • Direct faculty who wish to develop RODP courses to the RODP website and Course Proposal Form and assist with the approval process.
  • Attend RODP Curriculum Committee Meetings to monitor proposal status.
  • Send faculty member TBR contract when course has been approved for development.
  • Send approved contract to the TBR and retain original in D. E. Faculty Services office.
  • Provide course developer with RODP training information.
  • Provide funding for course developer travel to RODP for development training.
  • Complete and submit pay document to compensate course developer when the course is approved for delivery.
  • Request approval from TBR for course redesign and provide justification from course designer.
  • Pay course redesign fee when courses are substantially (50% or more) revised (typically after contract expiration – 3-year terms).
  • Assist the department in scheduling RODP courses.
  • Monitor enrollments during registration and assist departments in staffing additional sections.
  • Financially support offering of each RODP course/section at the faculty extra-comp or adjunct rate of pay.
  • Monitor and ensure that all RODP instructors have entered final grades by deadline.

Getting Started

  • Faculty who wish to propose development of a Regents Online Degree Program (RODP) course should:
    • Check the existing RODP courses and programs (RODP Courses and Programs) to determine if the course has been developed and to determine for what program the course should be designed.
    • Confirm that the course for proposal has been approved by the MTSU Curriculum Committee or the MTSU Graduate Council, as appropriate.
    • Complete the RODP Course Proposal Form and Syllabus (using required template) and follow the instructions for submission.
    • Proposals are not accepted for courses which require a prerequisite unless the prerequisite is already in the RODP course inventory.
    • Proposals are only accepted from universities for 3000- and 4000-level courses. Community colleges have first choice of 1000- and 2000-level course development.
  • Submission of a Course Proposal to the RODP does not guarantee course development approval.

Course Completion Deadlines

Two semesters, minimum, should be allotted for course approval, development, review/approval, and scheduling. Please review the course completion deadlines below in order to plan course development.

  • November 1 - Spring Semester
  • April 1 - Summer Semester
  • July 1 - Fall Semester

Course Proposal Process

Course Proposal Form

  • Review the RODP Standards and Template Guidelines 
  • Complete a Course Development Proposal Form and Syllabus (using required template
  • Follow instructions for submission provided at the top of the Proposal Form.
  • Incomplete proposals will be returned to the course developer.
  • Send copies of the all proposal documents to the Distance Education Faculty Services Office at MTSU Box 54 to be placed on file.

Course Proposal Review

  • Each proposal is reviewed by the appropriate subcommittee of the RODP Curriculum Committee;
  • A recommendation for acceptance or rejection is made to the RODP Curriculum Committee;
  • The faculty member is notified, via RODP email, of the committee's decision.

Accepted for Course Development

  • If the proposal is accepted, the course developer will receive training and course development information from the RODP;
  • The course designer should contact the Distance Education Faculty Services Office to obtain a course development contract.
  • The course designer is given two compensation options (see Development Fees below):
    • Payment only;
    • Payment and laptop computer.

Rejected Proposal

  • If the proposal is rejected, course content may have overlapped with or been too similar to an existing course.
  • If revisions are requested, a re-review by the subcommittee is necessary before submission to the full committee for review/approval.

Course Development Agreement

  • After a course is accepted for development, the course designer signs an online course development contract which outlines course development and instruction expectations as well as the terms for compensation.
  • The contract is available from the Distance Education Faculty Services Office.
  • When the contract has been approved by all parties, a copy is sent to the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and the original is kept on file in the Distance Education Faculty Services Office.
  • A copy of the approved document will be provided upon request by contacting Distance Education Faculty Services at 615/904-8276 or cindy.adams@mtsu.edu.
  • The approved contract must be on file in Distance Education Faculty Services prior to completion of course development in order to receive compensation.

Course Development

New course designers are required to develop their courses according to the RODP Standards and Template Guidelines (adhering to TBR Quality Matters for Online Teaching and Learning), and the New Guidelines for Addressing Online Retention.

Desire2Learn (D2L) Course Shell and Access

  • When a course is accepted for development, a Desire2Learn (D2L) course shell is provided by the RODP.
  • RODP courses are accessed through the RODP website (not through the MTSU server or PipelineMT).

Required Development Training

  • All new RODP course developers are required to complete a two-hour, online (D2L) RODP Orientation before attending course development training.
  • Course developer training consists of a two-day training session at the TBR and covers RODP Standards and D2L Tools.

RODP Course Development Fees

When the course developer forwards the delivery approval email from the RODP, Distance Education Faculty Services prepares a pay document to compensate the course designer according to the amount noted on the development contract and selected from the chart below. Fees are paid usually within eight (8) weeks of course approval notification.

Effective June 1, 2005

Course Development Course Level Fee
(no laptop)
(with laptop)
New Course Development Undergraduate $4,500 $3,000
  Graduate $5,000 $3,500
Course Conversion
Undergraduate $3,000 $2,250
  Graduate $3,500 $2,750
Course Redesign UG and Grad $1,000 NA


  • Unless a developing institution has received RODP approval to offer a course on a rotation basis, the institution is expected to offer the course every semester.
  • The RODP determines the number of course sections offered each semester (based on course history).
  • If MTSU cannot staff a course it developed, the course is offered to the other four-year institutions for staffing.
  • Course scheduling is coordinated by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) through the Distance Education Faculty Services Office and the MTSU Scheduling Center.
  • RODP and MTSU courses share a common academic calendar with one exception: RODP summer courses are taught in a single session which lasts from early June to mid-August.

Course Enrollments

  • As students register for RODP courses, enrollment numbers on the MTSU Banner system reflect only the students who claim MTSU as their home school even though students from other institutions may have registered for the courses.
  • The MTSU Banner system only displays the R50 sections regardless of the total number of additional sections that have made.
  • The RODP administrative website reflects all student enrollments. There is a 24-hour delay in the data shown on this site. Instructions for access are below.

Course Balancing

  • As students register for RODP courses, they are enrolled in the first, or R50, section until it fills. The enrollment caps are 25 students (undergraduate) and 15 students (graduate). Students then fill the second, or R51, section, etc.
  • Shortly before the semester begins, the course sections are balanced equally dividing the enrollments among the course sections.
  • The RODP rarely allows cancellation of a course, due to low enrollment, prior to a week before classes begin.

RODP Enrollment Data
Website and Access Instructions

(Use Internet Explorer to access)

Access Instructions

  • Select MTSU as the "institution" - the password is mtsu2402;
  • Select semester and year from the drop-down menu and hit "go".

To view MTSU courses only, select "Course Offering by Institution" from the drop-down menu and MTSU as the "institution" and then hit "go";


Select "View All Course Offerings" which lists all courses offered by all the TBR schools for that semester (this selection may not be available until the beginning of the semester).

These instructions should take you to the enrollment data for the semester selected. This site also links you to various other RODP student, course and enrollment reports.

Faculty Hiring and Required Training


  • If additional faculty are required to teach sections of RODP courses, academic departments are responsible for hiring them.
  • The MTSU Provost's Office is responsible for sending faculty credentials to the TBR to be placed on file per SACS requirements.

Required Instructional Training

Instructional Support

  • Distance Education Faculty Services funds the instruction of all RODP courses in the Fall and Spring Semesters.
  • Departments receive funds at the extra-comp/adjunct rate of pay, depending upon faculty rank, for full-time faculty teaching RODP courses within their loads.
  • Adjunct Faculty are paid according to the adjunct pay criteria guidelines or their rank within their academic departments (see chart below).
  • The pay dates for adjunct faculty during Spring and Fall Semesters are as follows:
    • Spring Semester: 1/3 February 28; 1/3 March 31; 1/3 April 30;
    • Fall Semester: 1/3 October 31; 1/3 November 30; 1/3 December 31.
Faculty Rank Rate Per Credit Hour
Full Professor $700
Associate Professor $650
Assistant Professor $600
Instructor $550
  • Full-time faculty teaching RODP courses out-of-load receive two payments per each Spring and Fall Semester.

Instructional Resources

  • MTSU's RODP Faculty Mentor is Dr. Jacqueline Gilbert (jackie.gilbert@mtsu.edu). She is a professor in the Management and Marketing Department, and will be happy to assist RODP course instructors throughout the semester.
  • Distance Education Student Services Manager, Rodney Robbins, serves as MTSU's RODP Campus Contact and may be reached at rodney.robbins@mtsu.edu or at 898-5060.

Instructional Best Practices

  • According to the RODP website, faculty are more successful when they:
    • "Encourage contact between students and faculty;
    • Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students;
    • Encourage active learning;
    • Give prompt feedback;
    • Emphasize time on task;
    • Communicate high expectations;
    • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning".

First Day of Class
(Based on Best Practices for Student Success and RODP Policies & Guidelines)

  • Send an email and post a message on the Discussion Board to students welcoming them to class and encouraging them to actively communicate with their classmates. Encourage them to email you regarding any learning problems or issues.
  • Direct students to review the course syllabus and any "Getting Started" information. This will help students to understand the organization and requirements of the course.
  • In an effort to establish a positive and respectful classroom environment, encourage your students to review your course expectations and remind them of appropriate behavior in an online environment.

First Week of Class
(Based on Best Practices for Student Success and RODP Policies & Guidelines)

  • Be prepared for registration adjustments during the first week of class.
  • Students on financial aid may be delayed in obtaining their textbooks due the processing of the materials. Therefore, please provide some alternative options for students without books to access the information for the first week (Internet, etc.).
  • Make students aware of support services that may enhance their success online (free tutoring, virtual library, ADA services, etc.) Share with them that within their class are links to all of the services.
  • "Be sure to help students practice any tools they will need later on, such as a special quizzing browser, an online writing or math lab with a code required to get in, a certain type of file or program, a media player, an audio recorder, a video camera, etc. Get problems solved during the first week so that students can focus on learning content – not technology – later on."
  • If your students will require a proctor, urge them to schedule this during the first week or two of class. Most testing centers are not heavily staffed, and trying to accommodate latecomers can become a nightmare for them.
  • Especially during the first week of class, try to be online every day. This will help students by:
    • reducing concerns;
    • addressing questions;
    • establishing bonding;
    • assisting students in preparing for the class;
    • assisting students in learning to navigate the course.
  • Studies have shown that instructors who are available online every day during the first week have a significantly higher retention rate, increased communication and bonding, and fewer classroom problems.

After the Second Week of Class
(Based on Best Practices for Student Success and RODP Policies & Guidelines)

  • Identify students who have not participated in the course and contact Teresa Umphrey, Distance Education Faculty Services, at teresa.umphrey@mtsu.edu. Teresa will try to contact the students to confirm that they are still enrolled and to offer assistance.
  • When it is evident that a student is falling behind in his/her work, email them immediately to try to get back on track.
  • Make sure that your policies on accepting late work are clear. If no late work is allowed, communicate this at the start of the semester.
  • Quickly contact students who miss an assignment in an effort to assist them before the next assignment is due.

Semester Instructional Tips
(Based on Best Practices for Student Success and RODP Policies & Guidelines)

  • Log into class at least three times per week to initiate communication with your students in an effort to serve as "facilitators of learning" and "motivators".
  • Respond to student e-mails and discussion postings within 48 hours, unless the students have been notified of any change beyond the required 48 hours.
  • Grade assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc., and post the grades within two weeks of the assignment's posted due date.
  • MTSU online courses are to be taught asynchronously, and professors cannot require synchronous student interaction or assignments where students must be online at the same time as other students or with the instructor.

Discussion Board Examples

  • The discussion board is a useful teaching tool and allows for student-to-student interaction. If you intend to grade discussion, provide students with guidelines. All students will post a response to each of the discussion questions. In addition each student will respond to the comments left by at least one of the other students. You may only respond once to any particular student and that student must respond to your comments. You may however respond to as many students as you like, and they may respond once to you.
  • General criteria used to assess class discussions include:

(1) Content Mastery: Students must evidence an understanding of the fact, concepts, and theories presented in the assigned readings and lectures. This ability is the basis for all higher-level skills and must be made evident by comments and/or response to questions.

(2) Communication Skills: Students must be able to inform others in an intelligent manner what he/she knows. Ideas must be communicated clearly and persuasively. Communication skills include listening to others and understanding what they have said, responding appropriately, asking questions in a clear manner, avoiding rambling discourses or class domination, using proper vocabulary pertinent to the discussion, building on the ideas of others, etc.

(3) Synthesis/Integration: Students must be able to illuminate the connections between the material under consideration and other bodies of knowledge. For example, one could take several ideas from the reading or class discussions and combine them to produce a new perspective on an issue, or one could take outside materials (from other classes, personal experiences, etc.) and combine them to create novel insights. Students who probe the interdisciplinary roots of the theories presented or who are able to view the author or the materials from several viewpoints demonstrate this skill.

(4) Creativity: Students must demonstrate that they have mastered the basic materials and have gone on to produce their own insights. A simple repetition of ideas from the articles will not suffice, nor will simply commenting on what others have said. Students must go beyond the obvious by bringing their own beliefs and imagination to bear. Creativity may be displayed by showing further implications of the material, by applying it to a new field, or by finding new ways of articulating the materials, which produce significant insights.

(5) Valuing: Students should be able to identify the value inherent in the material studied. Furthermore, students should be able to articulate their own positions by reference to basic underlying values. Students must not simply feel something is wrong or incorrect; she or he must be able to state why, based on some hierarchy of values. In either accepting or rejecting a position, the operative values must be explicit.

(6) General Enthusiasm and Interest in the Class: This can be shown by regularity of discussion and bringing in outside, ancillary materials that you read or have passed along to you. The more substance that you bring to the discussion, the higher your grade.


Test Proctoring Information

  • Students are responsible for identifying appropriate proctors and for scheduling their tests according to the noted RODP guidelines
  • RODP instructors review and approve all potential exam proctors. 
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