How to Comply with DOE’s “Regular and Substantive Interaction” Clause

Updated: Apr 26

In case you missed it, the Department of Education (DOE) finally released the last set of regulations from its epic 2019 negotiated rule-making process on April 1st 2020. WCET has a comprehensive list of blogs with the latest updates from the DOE.

This regulation, which has been a long time coming, is expected to have a substantial impact on the design and delivery of online courses and programs. Here we explain some of the requirements and how Yellowdig offers a unique and comprehensive solution to these new hurdles.


Make sure your online classroom complies with the DOE's April 2020 Update


These new regulations require regular and substantive interaction defined as follows (emphasis added):

For purposes of this definition, substantive interaction is engaging students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, and also includes at least two of the following —

- Providing direct instruction;

- Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework;

- Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course or competency;

- Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency; or,

- Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.

An institution ensures regular interaction between a student and an instructor or instructors by, prior to the student’s completion of a course or competency—

- Providing the opportunity for substantive interactions with the student on a predictable and regular basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency; and

- Monitoring the student’s academic engagement and success and ensuring that an instructor is responsible for promptly and proactively engaging in substantive interaction with the student when needed, on the basis of such monitoring, or upon request by the student.

Considering there are some specific guidelines to follow, any solution would require careful consideration of the student & faculty experience, ease of use, workload, measurement, and access to data.

Yellowdig’s solution is deeply rooted in pedagogy, which goes beyond compliance. We offer a solution that not only has demonstrated substantial improvement in learning outcomes, but is designed to improve student engagement and satisfaction. Yellowdig is a solution that encourages both students and instructors to participate and that they actually love to use, which makes regular & substantive interaction enjoyable rather than burdensome.

The below section provides a platform overview and some of the relevant features and functionality that will come in handy to meet the needs of this specific regulation.

Yellowdig’s platform overview:

Yellowdig is a community-building system that connects learners and empowers educators. Learners and instructors interact within a gamified system that provides an easy means for learners and other users to communicate and collaborate about class content, share a broad array of timely and relevant learning resources from the wider world (e.g., videos, news articles, blogs and more), and use modern social features like direct messages, emoji reactions, hashtags, @ mentions, and notifications.

The intuitive design, automatic tracking of participation, and data-tracking capabilities allow monitoring of student-student and instructor-student interactions. These data feedback into a number of features that ensure predictable, regular, and easily reportable interactions between students and their instructors.

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