Brief

How will higher ed accreditation work in the online age?

Dive Summary:

  • At a forum hosted by Education's Digital Future (EDF), a project of Stanford University's Graduate School of Education, speakers including Richard Arum, Emily Goligoski, John Katzman and Therese Cannon debated the value of an education in an increasingly digitized world. 
  • While Arum, co-author of "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses" and professor of sociology at New York University, questioned the meaning and value of a credit hour or secondary degree, Goligoski called attention to new ideas that could disrupt the mold with alternative forms of certification, such as badges, passports and metadata-encoded ID cards.
  • Arum urged those at large to reconsider the antiquated understanding of education in a digital era being increasingly populated with massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other alternatives such as flipped classrooms; Arum claimed a universal assessment of higher education is necessary to get "comparable data" in order to measure what students are actually learning at school.

From the article:

"... Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities are judged fit to confer diplomas and receive government subsidies. Many critics of the system assert that the accreditation process has relied on what Mitchell Stevens, co-convener of Education's Digital Future (EDF) and an associate professor of education, called a gentleman's agreement among government, schools and accreditation agencies. That worked just fine until very recently when, as Stevens noted at the forum, the political economy underlying the entire enterprise of U.S. higher education shifted. Tuition is going through the roof at many public institutions and at private universities that don't have large endowments. There is a great, unmet demand as poor, working-class and middle-class students who seek a college degree view it as financially out of reach. All of this is taking place as state financing for higher education is declining. The new kid on the block – online learning – is threatening to complicate things even further. ..."

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Filed Under: Higher Ed K12 Policy & Regulation Online Learning