(1)(a) The Florida Distance Learning Consortium is established to facilitate collaboration among public postsecondary educational institutions in their use of distance learning to increase student access to associate and baccalaureate courses and degree programs, to support institutions in their use of technology, and to help build partnerships among institutions, businesses, and communities.
(b) The Board of Governors and the State Board of Education shall exercise joint oversight of the consortium and shall establish, in consultation with the consortium, the administrative and operational guidelines and processes of the consortium.
(c) The consortium may contract for administrative services with a public postsecondary educational institution. The fee charged by the institution for administrative services may not exceed the actual cost for providing the services.
(2) The Florida Distance Learning Consortium shall:
(a) Manage and promote the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog, established pursuant to s. 1004.09, to help increase student access to undergraduate distance learning courses and degree programs and to assist students seeking accelerated access in order to complete their degrees.
(b) Develop, in consultation with the Florida College System and the State University System, a plan to be submitted to the Board of Governors, the State Board of Education, the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives no later than December 1, 2010, for implementing a streamlined, automated, online registration process for undergraduate students who have been admitted to a public postsecondary educational institution and who wish to enroll in a course listed in the Florida Higher Education Distance Learning Catalog, including courses offered by an institution that is not the student’s degree-granting or home institution. The plan must describe how such a registration process can be implemented by the 2011-2012 academic year as an alternative to the standard registration process of each institution. The plan must also address:
1. Fiscal and substantive policy changes needed to address administrative, academic, and programmatic policies and procedures. Policy areas that the plan must address include, but need not be limited to, student financial aid issues, variations in fees, admission and readmission, registration-prioritization issues, transfer of credit, and graduation requirements, with specific attention given to creating recommended guidelines that address students who attend more than one institution in pursuit of a degree.
2. A method for the expedited transfer of distance learning course credit awarded by an institution offering a distance learning course to a student’s degree-granting or home institution upon the student’s successful completion of the distance learning course.
3. Compliance with applicable technology security standards and guidelines to ensure the secure transmission of student information.
(c) Coordinate the negotiation of statewide licensing and preferred pricing agreements for distance learning resources and enter into agreements that result in cost savings with distance learning resource providers so that postsecondary educational institutions have the opportunity to benefit from the cost savings.
(d)1. Develop and operate a central instructional content repository that allows faculty to search, locate, and use instructional resources, including open access textbooks. In the development of a repository, the consortium shall identify and seek partnerships with similar national, state, and regional repositories for the purpose of sharing instructional content. The consortium shall collaborate with the public postsecondary educational institutions to ensure that the repository:
a. Integrates with multiple learning management systems used by the institutions.
b. Allows institutions to set appropriate copyright and access restrictions and track content usage.
c. Allows for appropriate customization.
2. Develop, in consultation with the Florida College System and the State University System, a plan for promoting and increasing the use of open access textbooks as a method for reducing textbook costs. The plan shall be submitted to the Board of Governors, the State Board of Education, the Office of Policy and Budget in the Executive Office of the Governor, the chair of the Senate Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means, and the chair of the House Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development no later than March 1, 2010, and shall include:
a. An inventory of existing open access textbooks.
b. A listing of undergraduate courses, in particular the general education courses, that would be recommended for the use of open access textbooks.
c. A standardized process for the review and approval of open access textbooks.
d. Recommendations for encouraging and promoting faculty development and use of open access textbooks.
e. Identification of barriers to the implementation of open access textbooks.
f. Strategies for the production and distribution of open access textbooks to ensure such textbooks may be easily accessed, downloaded, printed, or obtained as a bound version by students at either reduced or no cost.
g. Identification of the necessary technology security standards and guidelines to safeguard the use of open access textbooks.
(e) Identify and evaluate new technologies and instructional methods that can be used for improving distance learning instruction, student learning, and the overall quality of undergraduate distance learning courses and degree programs.
(f) Identify methods that will improve student access to and completion of undergraduate distance learning courses and degree programs.