Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a primary provider?
A primary provider is a course developer who has a proprietary interest in the product. The primary providers may develop the course or may hire someone to develop it. Primary providers may market the course themselves, have their own instructors deliver it and/or may sell it to secondary providers.
What is a secondary provider?
A secondary provider obtains a course from primary provider. They also have approved instructors and are responsible for monitoring student progress and verifying course completion and student identity. Secondary providers provide opportunities for interaction, support, administrative communications, and assessment or evaluation feedback. All critical components of delivery need to be measured next to the ARELLO Distance Education Standards.
If primary providers go through the certification process once why do secondary providers have to go through it again?
Secondary providers provide opportunities for interaction, support, administrative communications, and assessment and/or evaluation feedback. All critical components of delivery need to be measured next to the ARELLO Distance Education Standards. A secondary provider cannot display their course as ARELLO Certified unless they have completed the submission process with us.
What resource does ARELLO require primary providers give to secondary providers?
ARELLO requires primary providers or course developers that use secondary providers as a means of delivering and supporting courses to develop a reference manual for secondary providers and their instructors. At time of certification for the secondary provider will need to submit documentation that clearly states the responsibilities of the primary and the secondary provider. Please see Policy 15 for more information.
Why do I need an instructor associated with an distance education course?
All certified courses must have an instructor regardless of the delivery method. Students taking distance education courses require instructional support that can only be provided by a qualified course instructor. Instructors also play an important role in monitoring student progress.
How important are instructor credentials?
Instructor credentials must be submitted and reflect experience and expertise in the subject matter and the distance delivery. If instructors are changed or added, the credentials must be submitted and approved by ARELLO before they can officially teach the course. An Instructor Qualifications form must be submitted annually for each instructor.
How does an online course meet the requirement for students contacting the instructor when they are taking a course that is maintained by a primary provider?
This is a course design issue. ARELLO recommends that a "help" function in an online course be designed so that it will link to the secondary provider. An alternative design, which is permitted, is to have the help button to display the secondary provider with the contact information. The secondary provider must have the help function displayed on the page that links to a primary provider. It must be clear to the student who they can contact for content questions and who to contact for technical support.
Must I use the ARELLO forms to apply for certification?
Yes. Applications that are not submitted on the latest ARELLO forms will result in delays in processing your application.
Does a provider have to fill out separate applications for EVERY course individually even if the delivery method is identical for each course?
No! Providers can submit multiple courses with one application as long as the delivery method is the same. Also, applicants must make sure that any variations in the clock hours, completion rates, instructors etc. are clearly noted when they vary. Also, the independent time studies must be submitted individually for each course.
Review Timeline
How long does the certification process take?
The length of the certification process is dependent primarily upon the timeliness of the course provider's response to the requests of the review team. On average, the review process should not take more than 60 days.
How long does it take for a reviewer to be assigned?
A reviewer will be assigned to your course within 7 days of submission. The reviewer begins the review within 21 days of submission. If an application is incomplete, the provider will have 30 days to comply with the requirements. If a provider fails to submit a complete application, the application will be canceled and fees forfeited.
How long does a provider have to respond to ARELLO's request for modifications in a course?
The provider has 45 days from the initial communications with the reviewer. Once the provider has responded to the requests of the reviewer, the "clock" resets for another 45 days. If communication is made to the provider and not acknowledged during the 45 days, the course submission is deemed abandoned and fees forfeited.
Content Certification
Does ARELLO certify content as well as delivery methods of a distance education course?
No. The Distance Education Certification Program only reviews courses for instructional design and delivery.
Why does ARELLO require providers to include course content in the certification process if they don't certify content?
Content provides necessary context to design and delivery. Since delivery and content are so intermingled it is necessary to at least examine the content in light of the delivery methods used.
Timing and Clock Hours
What are ARELLO's guidelines for time studies mentioned in the primary provider's application and Distance Education Standards Manual?
Time studies help providers ensure the average completion time of a course is appropriate for the number of clock hours for which the course is being offered. Two methods are available for providers to meet their time study requirement. Please refer to Policy 6, Procedure 6 in the ARELLO Policies and Procedures for more information on time studies and the evidence of clock hour request.
Do secondary providers have to complete time studies for each course certified?
No. The primary providers have to provide course time studies to obtain certification.
Why does ARELLO still require clock-hours and not competency based education?
This is a matter of jurisdictional law and is the basis for course acceptance at the jurisdictional level.
What is the difference between time tracking and clock hour?
Time tracking is the ability to track how long the student is spending within the course. The LMS must be able to track a student's login/logout as well as how long the student is spending within each module/chapter. Clock hour is the amount of time the course content, interactivity, quizzes, and other learning strategies take a student to complete the course. At the time of application for certification, we require evidence of these components.
What is the difference between clock hour and credit?
ARELLO certifies the clock hour, which is the amount of time the course content, interactivity, quizzes, and other learning strategies take a student to complete the course. Credit is determined and awarded by the governing body. All advertising should include both the clock hour and the credit(s) awarded.
Assessments and Quizzes
Why does ARELLO not certify "click-through" courses?
Courses that are designed in a fashion that allows students to "click-through" a course with no assessment or remediation will not be certified. These are courses that are clearly designed to allow the student to by-pass material and that do not employ tools that foster learning and interactivity.
What is necessary to achieve "interactivity"?
The ARELLO certification process does not accept passive learning models. The course must be designed so there is ample interactivity as described in the ARELLO Standards. This must include proactive designs that foster interaction with the instructor as well as the content and preferably with students when appropriate.
Must I send in the answers to all the quiz questions and exams with my submission?
Yes. Failure to supply quiz answers will delay your review.
Are pretests required by ARELLO?
Pretests are not required but are encouraged. Pretests are administered to measure the student's knowledge prior to taking the course. By the end of the course, a clear measurement of what has been learned can be provided to the student by comparing pre- and post-assessments. Pretests do serve as interactive elements that can be attributed to a course. A pretest may also be a worthy learning strategy to implement in order to extend the time it takes to complete a course and meet clock hour requirements. Any implementation of pretests must be integrated with other learning strategies such as post-tests to ensure they are purposeful and accurately provide some measurement of student performance.
Are incremental assessments or quizzes required?
Incremental assessments are typically considered to be quizzes given after each logical unit of instruction. Incremental assessments are required at appropriate intervals throughout the course to obtain certification. These assessments should be properly designed to ensure questions are not too easy and are not repetitive. Incremental assessments should be designed to measure adequately whether mastery of the material has been achieved. ARELLO requirements for incremental assessments state the course is to have 10-12 questions presented to the student for every hour of instruction in the course.
Modules and Reuse
If a provider develops a single 90 hour pre-license (qualifying education) course and then wants to take exact "modules or components" from it to create separate courses, will the provider have to certify each of the sub courses?
Yes, each course must be certified separately. Often, the audiences are very different within pre-license and CE courses. Thus, delivery methods should usually be adjusted to accommodate these differences in the experience levels of the students. Also, two independent studies must be done on each sub course to verify course hours.
If a provider submits multiple courses that use the same LMS design, why does each individual course have to be certified?
The Standards are very comprehensive and encompass more than course design. Course design is only one aspect of delivery quality distance education. Our review process looks at each course individually. We have found that, due to rapidly changing technology, there is simply no one size fits all in distance education.
Will ARELLO certify a group or bundle of previously certified courses to create a single new certified course without having to pay a fee for a "new course" to ARELLO?
No. The course provider would have to certify the bundled courses as if it were a new submission. The course must be designed to be taken in its entirety if the student is to receive credit for the course. For example, if a provider has taken two previously certified courses both for three hours and combines them into a single six hour course, the student must have to complete all six hours to receive credit for the new course. The provider would also have to certify a new six hour course with ARELLO.
Can an orientation be accomplished online?
Yes, this can be done a variety of ways. It can be done via email BUT there must be a response from the instructor to each student. The response must include their availability, and encouraging the student to maintain contact and ask questions if needed. An email generated via a course management system must receive a response. See the ARELLO Standards and Policies and Procedures for more information.
Does ARELLO test the actual delivery applications for ways they could be compromised?
To a reasonable degree, yes.
Does ARELLO offer instructional design or technical help in designing courses?
No. The certification review process is built on the premise that courses are professionally designed. The technologies of today are varied and often unique in their structure. It is critical that an instructional designer is involved in the design of a distance education course.
What if ARELLO doesn't certify my course?
ARELLO makes a commitment to each provider and strives to maintain a very cooperative atmosphere until the ARELLO Standards are met and the certification process is complete. If the ARELLO reviewer requests changes be made to a course, the provider has 45 days to respond to that initial request. If the provider does not follow-up within the 45-day period the application fees are forfeited. For more information, please see Policy 2.