Program Policies

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is critical to the mission of UW-Extension and the Independent Learning program. Students are expected to be familiar with University of Wisconsin System’s Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures and to recognize that their work in the course is to be original work that truthfully represents the time and effort applied. Violations of this policy are taken seriously and will be handled in a manner that fully represents the extent of the law and that suits the level of violation.

Accessibility

In accordance with the Americans and Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its amendments, individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination and assured services and accommodations that provide equal access to the activities and programs of the university. Students interested in requesting academic accommodations must follow our Accommodations Request Process. Please be advised that the eligibility determination process and, once approved, implementation of accommodation services could take several weeks. It is important for students to be proactive and initiate the process early in order to ensure that accommodations are in place by the time the subscription period begins.

Appeals, Complaints and Grievance Procedures

Independent Learning students are responsible for being familiar with and complying with the policies stated on this website and covered in their course syllabus. Requests for exceptions to the policies must be made in writing to the Program Manager of Independent Learning as outlined below. Any exception to the policy must be provided on the basis of a student appeal. Appeals are reviewed on the basis of justifiable and documented circumstances.

Requests for exceptions to Independent Learning policies must written or typed and include the following:

  • Student’s name and current contact information including phone, email and mailing address
  • Course(s) to which the request pertains
  • Exception or waiver of policy requested
  • Description of the circumstances upon which the appeal is based along with any supporting documentation

Requests should be sent via email to il@uwex.edu or via mail to:

UW Independent Learning
Attn: Program Manager
5602 Research Park Blvd, Suite 300
Madison, WI 53719-1245

Confidentiality of Student Records

Independent Learning follows the University of Wisconsin System policy in abiding by the provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This policy restricts the release of student records. The primary rights protected under FERPA include:

  1. Students’ rights to review and inspect their educational records.

    Educational records include all records regarding your education that are maintained by the University of Wisconsin Independent Learning program in which you are or have been enrolled, with seven exceptions:

    • Personal notes of faculty and staff
    • Employment records
    • Medical and counseling records used solely for treatment
    • Campus security records
    • Financial records of a parent or spouse
    • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in your records before January 1, 1975
    • Confidential letters and statements of recommendation for admission, employment or honorary recognition placed in your records after January 1, 1975, for which you have waived the right to inspect and review
  2. Students’ rights to have their educational records amended or corrected.

    If you believe that your educational record is inaccurate or misleading, you may request that the University amend that record.

  3. Students’ rights to control disclosure of certain portions of their educational records.

    Directory Information (Public Records)

    In accordance with FERPA, Independent Learning has designated the following categories of information about students as public information, otherwise known as directory information. This information will be routinely released to any inquirer unless you specifically request that all of the items on the following list be withheld:

    • Student name
    • Address
    • Email address
    • Telephone number
    • Date of birth
    • Designation of school/college (year in school)
    • Enrollment status (part/full time)
    • Major field of study
    • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
    • Height and weight of members of athletic teams
    • Dates of attendance
    • Degrees and dates of graduation including anticipated graduation dates
    • Awards received, including academic awards
    • Previous institutions attended

    Non-Directory Information (Private Records)

    Many categories of information are considered private, or protected, by the University of Wisconsin Independent Learning program. For example, information such as social security number, campus identification number, place of birth, marital status, or academic actions is restricted unless you grant permission to release.

    Who Can Request Access?

    Under FERPA, prior written consent must be obtained before your educational record may be disclosed to a third party, unless that party is exempted from this provision.

    Requests for us to disclose information from your records to a third party are completed within the Profile section of the Student Account.

    Information will be released without your prior written consent to certain groups or individuals. Instances in which prior written consent is not required may include:

    • Requests in connection with an emergency, if such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of you or another person.
    • Requests in accordance with a lawful subpoena or court order.
    • Requests for public records information (see above), if not restricted by you.

    You May Choose to Restrict Information

    To request that items be restricted, you must submit a written request by email to il@uwex.edu, fax to (608) 262-4096, or mail to Student Services, 5602 Research Park Blvd., Suite 300, Madison WI 53719.

  4. Finally, students have the right to notify the U.S. Department of Education concerning an academic institution’s failure to comply with FERPA regulations. 

    The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202-5901

    Notification of Rights Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

    As an institution of higher education, we are required to notify our enrolled students at least annually of their rights under FERPA.

Course Extensions

All Independent Learning courses are eligible for up to two 3-month paid extensions, affording students an extra 6 months of time to complete their course beyond their original course expiration date.

Registrations starting April 10, 2018

Effective April 10, 2018, the maximum time a student can take to complete an Independent Learning course is 12 months from the date they registered for the course. This affords students who cannot complete their course within the 6-month limit the opportunity to request a course extension. Course extensions are awarded in 3-month increments, as long as the total time to complete the course with the extension does not exceed 12 months. Students may request up to two extensions per course with the first extension from 6 months to 9 months costing $150 and a second extension from 9 months to 12 months costing $250.

Registrations prior to April 10, 2018

For those students who registered in their course on or before April 9, 2018, the maximum time to complete their course is 18 months from the date they registered for the course. This affords students who cannot complete their course within the 12-month limit the opportunity to request a course extension. Course extensions are awarded in 3-month increments, as long as the total time to complete the course with the extension does not exceed 18 months. Students may request up to two extensions per course with the first extension from 12 months to 15 months costing $150 and a second extension from 15 months to 18 months costing $250.

Course extension requests are completed within the Courses section of the Student Account.

Course Pacing

Similar to a traditional on-campus course, each credit hour of an Independent Learning course correlates to weekly class hours. Students should expect to dedicate an additional two to three hours of work per week for every class hour in their course. For example, a three-credit course would correspond to 9-12 hours per week over a three-month period (three hours of class time plus six to nine hours of additional study time per week). Similarly, a four-credit course would correspond to 12-16 hours per week over a three-month period (four hours of class time plus 8-12 hours of additional study time per week).

Students aiming to complete a course at a slower pace can adjust their course pacing guide accordingly (e.g. adjusting the weekly effort from nine hours per week to six hours per week). Students aiming to complete a course in less than six weeks should seek prior approval by submitting a written request to our Student Services team at il@uwex.edu. The Student Services team will collaborate with your Course Facilitator and respond to you within three business days with an approval or denial of your request, including next steps for you to follow.

Course Sequence

Course Author(s) strategically design courses to maximize student learning in alignment with course objectives. As such, students are strongly encouraged to proceed through the course and complete all requirements following the sequence in which they are presented. Course Facilitators will evaluate only those course requirements completed and submitted by the student.

Any skipped course requirement will earn a point value of zero unless the student secures pre-approval from the Course Facilitator to complete the course requirement out of sequence.

Deadlines for Course Completions

Students must complete and submit all course requirements, including any final exams or papers, on or before their course expiration date in order for those course requirements to be factored into a final course grade calculation.

Evaluation of Student Work

Course Facilitators are committed to providing students with timely feedback of submitted work. Students should expect to receive feedback within 3 business days, exclusive of holidays. For example, if a student submits an assignment on Thursday, that student should expect to receive feedback on the assignment from a Course Facilitator by midnight on Tuesday of the following week. On occasion, a Course Facilitator may experience higher-than-usual volumes of submitted work from students enrolled in the course and may need additional time for evaluation. Course Facilitators will notify students of any anticipated delays. Students should reach out to our Student Services team at il@uwex.edu with any concerns regarding the timeliness of Course Facilitator feedback.

Exam Proctoring

Many Independent Learning courses require you to take exams under the supervision of an approved proctor to ensure the security and validity of exams. Some courses utilize a remote proctoring service called Examity while others require students to identify a qualified proctor within their community to administer and submit completed exams to our offices. All proctors must be verified and approved by our Independent Learning Student Services team prior to the student taking any exam. Once approved, proctors can administer exams for any Independent Learning student or the same student on multiple occasions (e.g. for subsequent exams in the same or different course). Some proctors or proctoring services charge for their time. Any fees associated with securing a proctor or taking exams is the student’s responsibility.

Students can find information about course-specific exam policies in the course syllabus. Requests for exams and proctor approval for courses requiring exam supervision and not using Examity are completed within the Courses section of the Student Account.

Who are qualified proctors?

Students in courses requiring a proctor must identify an individual in their community who holds academic responsibility in a university, college, K-12 school or other education institution setting. Proctors cannot have any vested interest in the outcome of the student’s exam and must administer the student’s exam at their place of professional employment during regular work hours.

Qualified proctors for Independent Learning courses include:

  • College, university, or other education institution faculty or graduate teaching assistants
  • College, university, or other education institution student services staff (e.g. Academic Advisers)
  • Public librarians in a supervisory position
  • Licensed K-12 school teachers, principals, guidance counselors, or librarians in a supervisory position
  • Students who are employees at a K-12 school must identify a qualified proctor outside of their school
  • College, university, or other education institution testing centers
    • Students located in the Madison, WI area may use the proctoring services offered by our Independent Learning partners at UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies by contacting them at il@dcs.wisc.edu

Qualified proctors for students active in the military

Students actively serving in the military while enrolled in an Independent Learning course may use qualified military personnel, such as a commissioned officer of higher rank than the student, a base commander, a noncommissioned officer in command of a military post, or a base librarian, to proctor their exams. The proctor nomination must include a letter on official letterhead verifying the proctor’s position.

Qualified proctors for incarcerated students

Students who are incarcerated while enrolled in an Independent Learning course may use qualified correctional facility personnel, such as correctional institution education services staff, to proctor their exams.

Who are not qualified to serve as proctors?

The following individuals do not qualify as proctors:

  • Family members or friends who meet the qualifications listed above
  • Employers including workplace educational personnel, work supervisors and work colleagues
  • Academic tutors, coaches or clergy members who do not also meet the qualifications listed above

Any requested proctor who does not meet approved criteria must be authorized by Independent Learning Program Manager.

Faculty

Independent Learning enlists qualified UW faculty to develop and facilitate courses within their content area of expertise. Course Authors lead course development, and Course Facilitators support students enrolled in courses. Similar to course instructors, Course Facilitators evaluate and provide feedback on submitted coursework and respond to student inquiries regarding course content or evaluation.

Please note that, while typically occurring during summer months, Course Facilitator transitions can occur at any time — even when students are in the process of completing a course. Students will be notified of any Course Facilitator changes. Our goal is to make Course Facilitator transitions as smooth as possible to avoid disrupting students in the process of completing a course.

Grade Appeals

Students who wish to appeal an assignment, quiz, exam, or any other grade should follow the grade appeal policy, as follows, within 90 days of their course completion or expiration date, whichever happens first:

  1. Email a written statement outlining your appeal and addressed to the Course Facilitator who assigned the grade, to our Student Services team at il@uwex.edu. If a disputed grade is the result of a clerical or computational error, the Independent Learning Program Manager may adjust the grade under appeal after consultation with the Academic Coordinator of the department responsible for facilitating your course. If the appeal falls outside of clerical or computational error, your Course Facilitator will respond to your appeal in writing (attached to an email) within three business days, excluding holidays.
  2. If you are not satisfied with your Course Facilitator’s response to your appeal, you may email a written statement of appeal to the Independent Learning Program Manager at il@uwex.edu. The Program Manager will refer the matter to a hearing committee, appointed by UW-Extension’s Dean of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning (or designee), as well as the academic dean of the UW institution having major responsibility for the course(s) in question.
  3. The hearing committee will request relevant information from the Course Facilitator in response to your appeal, including the grading criteria used. The hearing committee will then forward its decision, which will be final, to UW-Extension’s Dean of Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning (or designee), who will share the decision with the Independent Learning Program Manager and the Academic Coordinator of the department responsible for facilitation of your course. The Independent Learning Program Manager will notify you of the final decision.

Grades

Final Grades

All students will earn a final course grade based on submitted course requirements upon expiration of their course, inclusive of any approved course extensions. Grades will always be rounded up to the nearest tenth. Students who do not want to earn a final course grade may request withdrawal or transfer to another Independent Learning course prior to expiration of their course in accordance with their respective policies.

Pass/Fail Option

Students who prefer to take a course on a pass/fail basis must request to do so in writing at the time of registration or before the first assignment is submitted. For courses taken on a pass/fail basis, a grade of C or better is passing, and a grade of D or lower is failing.

Students must request to take a course pass/fail in writing by sending their request to il@uwex.edu. Requests will be reviewed and students will be notified in writing if the request was approved or denied within five business days.

Refunds and Withdrawals

Students have the ability to request a withdrawal any time after their date of registration in an Independent Learning course up until their course expiration date. Course withdrawal requests are completed with the Courses section of the Student Account.

The refund schedule is as follows:

Withdrawal requests submitted within 14 days of registration date 100% of tuition
Withdrawal requests submitted within 15–30 days of registration date 50% of tuition
Withdrawal requests submitted after 30 days of registration date no refund

Note: Refunds are for tuition only and will not include any administrative or course extension fees.

Submitting Coursework

Students are strongly encouraged to wait for Course Facilitator feedback on submitted work before proceeding in the course to ensure that their work aligns with expectations and to allow time for revisions, if needed. We therefore discourage students from submitting multiple items for feedback at once.

Students who submit multiple items in the same day can expect to receive feedback on the first submission within three business days, excluding holidays. Remaining work will be evaluated in order of submission with an adjusted timeline. For example, if a student submits three written assignments on Tuesday, the student should expect to receive feedback on the first assignment on or before midnight on Friday, on the second assignment three business days after that, and on the third assignment three business days after that. Please note that opportunities for revision are at the discretion of the Course Facilitator.

Transcripts

Official academic transcripts issued by University of Wisconsin – Extension are available for Independent Learning courses completed with published final course grades. Our transcript service is included as part of the course administrative fee students pay up front at the time of registration and covers the lifetime cost of all requested transcripts sent via regular mail. Please review the Request Transcripts page for additional information, including instructions for submitting a transcript request.

Transferring Courses

Students can transfer from one Independent Learning course to another any time on or before their original course expiration date. Only one transfer per registration is permitted. The original course completion date carries over into the transferred course. The original course tuition payment paid will be applied to the new course and the student will be charged for any portion of tuition that remains uncovered. Refunds for any surplus tuition are issued in accordance within the Refund and Withdrawals policy.

Course transfer requests are completed with the Courses section of the Student Account.

Updating Student Records

Students are encouraged to update their demographic information including address, phone, email and name changes along with correcting any errors in birthdate or other contact information within the Profile section of their Student Account.

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