Tag Archives: College Accreditation

Harvard and MIT study: So far, MOOC courses are not growing as fast as expected

15 Apr

Moi wrote in MOOCs are trying to discover a business model which works: Jon Marcus reported in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/online-course-startups-offer-virtually-free-college/2012/01/09/gIQAEJ6VGQ_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend
The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/education/25future.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
Whether MOOCS can develop a business model is discussed in the Economist article, The attack of the MOOCs: An army of new online courses is scaring the wits out of traditional universities. But can they find a viable business model? http://www.economist.com/news/business/21582001-army-new-online-courses-scaring-wits-out-traditional-universities-can-they
https://drwilda.com/2013/07/21/moocs-are-trying-to-discover-a-business-model-which-works/

Steve Kolowich reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, MOOCs Are Largely Reaching Privileged Learners, Survey Finds:

Most people who take massive open online courses already hold a degree from a traditional institution, according to a new paper from the University of Pennsylvania.
The paper is based on a survey of 34,779 students worldwide who took 24 courses offered by Penn professors on the Coursera platform. The findings—among the first from outside researchers, rather than MOOC providers—reinforce the truism that most people who take MOOCs are already well educated.
The Penn researchers sent the survey to students who had registered for a MOOC and viewed at least one video lecture. More than 80 percent of the respondents had a two- or four-year degree, and 44 percent had some graduate education.
The pattern was true not only of MOOC students in the United States but also learners in other countries. In some foreign countries where MOOCs are popular, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population,” according to the paper.
In other developing countries, about 80 percent of the MOOC students surveyed already held college degrees—a number staggeringly out of proportion with the share of degree holders in the general population.
“The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most—those without access to higher education in developing countries—are underrepresented among the early adopters,” write the paper’s six authors…
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/moocs-are-reaching-only-privileged-learners-survey-finds/48567

Research by Harvard and MIT found MOOCs are not growing in the ways expected.

Anya Kamenetz of NPR reported in New Research Shows Free Online Courses Didn’t Grow As Expected:

Today, much of that hype has subsided (though best-selling authors and newspaper columnists are still making the case that “the end of college” is nigh). And new research on 1.7 million MOOC participants offers a more nuanced view of just what these courses are and could become.

One of the biggest MOOC platforms, edX, is run jointly as a nonprofit by Harvard and MIT. And researchers at both schools have been poring over the data from everyone who participated in 68 courses over more than two years. That’s 10 million participant-hours. Here’s what they found.

A Lot Of Teachers And A Lifeline

In one survey of a subset of users, 39 percent identified as current or former teachers, and one-in-five had taught the subject they were studying. This finding supports the general profile of MOOCsters as being already well-educated….

The study also found extreme over-representation among citizens of Greece and Spain — not only taking courses but also paying for certification. During the period under study, Greek universities were forced to suspend operations due to austerity measures, and budget cuts in Spain led to national student protests. As a result, did students look online for an education alternative? It’s a question for future research, the authors agree.

Linear, Not Exponential Growth

The first MOOCs had over 100,000 registrants each. Predictions were made (and millions of dollars invested) based on the idea that participation would be in the hundreds of millions by now. Actual interest is more modest.

So what happens now — given MOOCs have fallen far short of those early, lofty expectations?

….Some colleges are looking to expand on-campus applications of MOOCs. Reich points out that 83 percent of MIT undergrads are taking a class that uses MITx resources in some way.
Paid certificates for these online courses are another potential answer, though Reich says they’re likely to be most useful in a minority of fast-changing, highly technical fields.

Andrew Ho, a lead author of the paper at Harvard, thinks the value of certificates will increase… ”

The simplest answer to “What happens now?” is this: Despite lingering doubts about the power and profitability of MOOCs, companies and universities are still spending significant resources to create and support them for millions of people, in nearly every country, for free. It’s an investment, for now, on faith…. http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2015/04/11/397295495/the-future-of-free-online-courses-new-research-from-mit-and-harvard

Citation:

HarvardX and MITx: Two Years of Open Online Courses Fall 2012-Summer 2014

Andrew Dean Ho
Harvard University; Harvard University – HarvardX

Isaac Chuang
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Office of Digital Learning

Justin Reich

Harvard University – HarvardX; Harvard University – Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Cody Austun Coleman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Jacob Whitehill

Harvard University

Curtis G Northcutt

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Joseph Jay Williams

Harvard University

John D Hansen

Harvard University

Glenn Lopez

Harvard University

Rebecca Petersen

Harvard University – HarvardX

March 30, 2015

Abstract:

What happens when well-known universities offer online courses, assessments, and certificates of completion for free? Early descriptions of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have emphasized large enrollments, low certification rates, and highly educated registrants. We use data from two years and 68 open online courses offered by Harvard University (via HarvardX) and MIT (via MITx) to broaden the scope of answers to this question. We describe trends over this two-year span, depict participant intent using comprehensive survey instruments, and chart course participation pathways using network analysis. We find that overall participation in our MOOCs remains substantial and that the average growth has been steady. We explore how diverse audiences — including explorers, teachers-as-learners, and residential students — provide opportunities to advance the principles on which HarvardX and MITx were founded: access, research, and residential education.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: MOOC, massive open online course, HarvardX, MITx, edX, online learning, distance education, higher education, residential learning

Here is the press release from Harvard and MIT:

Massive Study from Harvard and MIT on MOOCs Provides New Insights on an Evolving Space
April 1, 2015

Since “Year of the MOOC” became a catchphrase in 2012, massive open online courses have had their fans and detractors. Some have claimed that online learning is a “disruptive revolution” and a harbinger of the end of residential colleges, while others have called MOOCs “mere marketing” at best or an abject failure at worst, singling out low completion rates.

Expanded data and research about MOOC participants and evidence-based assessments of online learning trends might, however, begin to move the conversation beyond anecdotes and heated opinions.
Today, a joint Harvard and MIT research team published one of the largest investigations of MOOCs (massive open online courses) to date. Building on their prior work—a January 2014 report describing the first year of open online courses launched on edX, a non-profit learning platform founded by the two institutions—the latest effort incorporates another year of data, bringing the total to nearly 70 courses in subjects from programming to poetry.

“We explored 68 certificate-granting courses, 1.7 million participants, 10 million participant-hours, and 1.1 billion participant-logged events,” said the study’s co-lead author Andrew Ho, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and chair of the HarvardX research committee. The research team also used surveys to ¬gain additional information about participants’ backgrounds and their intentions.

Ho and MIT’s Isaac Chuang, professor of physics, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and senior associate dean of digital learning, led a group effort that delved into the demographics of MOOC learners, analyzed participant intent, and looked at patterns that “serial MOOCers,” or those taking more than one course, tend to pursue.

“What jumped out for me was the survey that revealed that in some cases as many as 39% of our learners are teachers,” said Chuang. “This finding forces us to broaden our conceptions of who MOOCs serve and how they might make a difference in improving learning.”

Key Findings

The researchers conducted a trend analysis that showed a rising share of female, US-based, and older participants, as well as a survey analysis of intent, revealing that almost half of registrants were not interested in or unsure about certification. In this study, the researchers redefined their population of learners from those who simply registered for courses (and took no subsequent action) — a metric used in prior findings and often cited by MOOC providers — to those who participated (i.e., by logging into the course at least once.)

Participation in HarvardX and MITx open online courses has grown steadily, while participation in repeated courses has declined and then stabilized
From July 24, 2012, through on September 21, 2014, the end of the study period, an average of 1,300 new participants joined a HarvardX or MITx course each day, for a total of 1 million unique participants and 1.7 million total participants. With the increase in second and third versions of courses, the researchers found that participation in second versions declined by 43%, while there was stable participation between versions two and three. There were outliers, such as the HarvardX course CS50x, “Introduction to Computer Science,” which doubled in size, perhaps due to increased student flexibility: Students in this course could participate over a year-long period at their own pace and complete at any time.

A slight majority of MOOC takers are seeking certification, and many participants are teachers
Among the one-third of participants who responded to a survey about their intentions, 57% stated their desire to earn a certificate; nearly a quarter of those respondents went on to earn certificates. Further, among participants who were unsure or did not intend to earn a certificate, 8% ultimately did so. These learners appear to have been inspired to finish a MOOC even after initially stating that they had no intention of doing so.

Among 200,000 participants who responded to a survey about teaching, 39% self-identified as a past or present teacher. 21% of those teachers reported teaching in the course topic area. The strong participation by teachers suggests that even participants who are uninterested in certification may still make productive use of MOOCs.

Academic areas matter when it comes to participation, certification, and course networks
Participants were drawn to computer science courses in particular, with per-course participation numbers nearly four times higher than courses in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. That said, certificate rates in computer science and other science- and technology-based offerings (7% and 6%, respectively) were about half of those in the humanities and social sciences.

The larger data sets also allowed the researchers to study those participating in more than one course, revealing that computer science courses serve as hubs for students, who naturally move to and from related courses. Intentional sequencing, as was done for the 10-part HarvardX Chinese history course “ChinaX,” led to some of the highest certification rates in the study. Other courses with high certification rates were “Introduction to Computer Science” from MITx and “Justice” and “Health in Numbers” from HarvardX.

Those opting for fee-based ID-verified certificates certify at higher rates
Across 12 courses, participants who paid for “ID-verified” certificates (with costs ranging from $50 to $250) earned certifications at a higher rate than other participants: 59%, on average, compared to 5%. Students opting for the ID-verified track appear to have stronger intentions to complete courses, and the monetary stake may add an extra form of motivation.

Questions and Implications

Based upon these findings, Chuang and Ho identified questions that might “reset and reorient expectations” around MOOCs.

First, while many MOOC creators and providers have increased access to learning opportunities, those who are accessing MOOCs are disproportionately those who already have college and graduate degrees. The researchers do not necessarily see this as a problem, as academic experience may be a requirement in advanced courses. However, to serve underrepresented and traditionally underserved groups, the data suggest that proactive strategies may be necessary.

“These free, open courses are phenomenal opportunities for millions of learners,” Ho emphasized, “but equity cannot be increased just by opening doors. We hope that our data help teachers and institutions to think about their intended audiences, and serve as a baseline for charting progress.”
Second, if improving online and on-campus learning is a priority, then “the flow of pedagogical innovations needs to be formalized,” said Chuang. For example, many of the MOOCs in the study used innovations from their campus counterparts, like physics assessments from MIT and close-reading practices from Harvard’s classics courses. Likewise, residential faculty are using MOOC content, such as videos and assessment scoring algorithms, in smaller, traditional lecture courses.
“The real potential is in the fostering of feedback loops between the two realms,” said Chuang. “In particular, the high number of teacher participants signals great potential for impact beyond Harvard and MIT, especially if deliberate steps could be taken to share best practices.”

Third, advancing research through MOOCs may require a more nuanced definition of audience. Much of the research to date has done little to differentiate among the diverse participants in these free, self-paced learning environments.

“While increasing completion has been a subject of interest, given that many participants have limited, uncertain, or zero interest in completing MOOCs, exerting research muscle to indiscriminately increase completion may not be productive,” explained Ho. “Researchers might want to focus more specifically on well-surveyed or paying subpopulations, where we have a better sense of their expectations and motivations.”

More broadly, Ho and Chuang hope to showcase the potential and diversity of MOOCs and MOOC data by developing “Top 5” lists based upon course attributes, such as scale (an MIT computer science course clocked in with 900,000 participant hours); demographics (the MOOC with the most female representation is a museum course from HarvardX called “Tangible Things,” while MITx’s computing courses attracted the largest global audience); and type and level of interaction (those in ChinaX most frequently posted in online forums, while those in an introduction to computer science course from MITx most frequently played videos.)

“These courses reflect the breadth of our university curricula, and we felt the need to highlight their diverse designs, philosophies, audiences, and learning outcomes in our analyses,” said Chuang. “Which course is right for you? It depends, and these lists might help learners decide what qualities in a given MOOC are most important to them.”
Additional authors on the report included

Justin Reich, Jacob Whitehill, Joseph Williams, Glenn Lopez, John Hansen, and Rebecca Petersen from Harvard; and Cody Coleman and Curtis Northcutt from MIT.

With any education opportunity the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives. In answer to the question of whether online college is a threat to traditional bricks and mortar universities, it depends. The market will answer that question because many students do not attend college to receive a liberal arts education, but to increase employment opportunities. If the market accepts badges and certificates, then colleges may be forced to look at the costs associated with a traditional college degree.

Related:

Verifying identity for online courses

https://drwilda.com/2012/04/15/verifying-identity-for-online-courses/

Will ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCS) begin to offer credit?

https://drwilda.com/2012/11/14/will-massive-open-online-courses-moocs-begin-to-offer-credit/

Is online higher ed a threat to bricks and mortar colleges?

https://drwilda.com/2012/09/17/is-online-higher-ed-a-threat-to-bricks-and-mortar-colleges/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment study: Community college students who transfer to for-profit higher education don’t earn as much

29 Jan

Moi wrote about for-profit higher education in Scary study about what happens to for-profit college graduates:
We are in a periodic of extreme economic dislocation and people are retraining and starting businesses in an attempt to put themselves in a better economic position. Because of the economic uncertainty, may are willing to try almost anything to survive. Beware, some choices can leave people in a worse position.

The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) has produced a truly scary study about what happens to the graduates of for-profit colleges. According to the press release for the study, For-Profit College Students Less Likely to Be Employed After Graduation and Have Lower Earnings, New Study Finds:

Students who attend for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed and have lower earnings six years after enrolling than similar students who attend public and not-for-profit colleges, according to a new study by authors affiliated with the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE). They also carry heavier debt burdens and are more likely to default on their student loans.
Over the past decades, for-profit colleges have experienced explosive growth in enrollment, with numbers increasing from 18,333 in 1970 to 1.85 million in 2009. Currently, for profit students make up 13 percent of all college attendees, up from 5 percent in 2001.
However, until now, student outcomes for these institutions have been poorly understood, not least because the students they serve are not always analogous to those who attend public and non-profit colleges. The analysis found that for-profit colleges serve a larger fraction of students who tend to struggle in college: minority, older, and independent students who are disproportionately single parents, have lower family incomes and are twice as likely to have a GED.
To ensure comparable results, the study—which used data from the 2004 to 2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal survey—controlled for observable student characteristics such as income, age and ethnicity. The analysis indicated that students who attend for-profit schools are more likely to persist through their first year and to earn certificates and associate degrees than their counterparts at community colleges. However, despite these higher completion rates, for-profit students are more likely to experience long term unemployment and report less satisfaction with their education in the six years after they enroll.
The poor employment and earning outcomes of for-profit students may explain their high rates of loan defaults. Currently, 26 percent of all federal student aid goes to for-profit tuition, making up three quarters of the sector’s revenue. The researchers found that almost 25 percent of for-profit students default on their loans within three years. This rate is 10.5 percent higher than that of similar students who attend public or non-profit institutions and accounts for almost half of all student loan defaults. http://capseecenter.org/for-profit-college-students-less-likely-to-be-employed-after-graduation-and-have-lower-earnings-new-study-finds/

See, Study: For-Profit Colleges Offer Weak Job Prospects, Pay http://www.educationnews.org/higher-education/study-for-profit-colleges-offer-weak-job-prospects-pay/

Here is the citation:

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators? (A CAPSEE Working Paper)
By: David Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz| February 2012 http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.26.1.139

The conclusions of this report have been echoed in prior reports. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/26/scary-study-about-what-happens-to-for-profit-college-graduates/
A study by the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment finds that students who transfer to for-profit colleges from community college have lower earnings.

Paul Fain reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, For-Profit Wage Gap:

Community college students who transfer to for-profit institutions tend to earn less over the next decade than do their peers who transfer to public or private colleges.
Those are the findings from a study released Monday by the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, a research center that was created with a federal grant and is housed at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
In recent years several researchers have attempted to look at the relative labor market returns of attending for-profits, which is also a hot topic among policy makers.
There are many variables at play – such as the relatively low academic preparation of incoming for-profit students versus their peers at traditional colleges. And the results from those research efforts have ranged from largely unflattering to a mixed view of for-profits.
This new study, however, may be the first to analyze earnings gaps at various points before and after students attend college, as well as while they’re still enrolled.
It also controlled for the effects of student “swirl” in the complex higher education system by looking at transfer among a large sample of 80,000 full-time community college students who first enrolled in the early to mid-2000s.
Over all, the research found that students who transferred to for-profits earned roughly 7 percent less over the next decade than students who transferred to private or public nonprofit institutions, according to income data culled from unemployment insurance data dated from up to 2012.
“We identify a statistically significant wage penalty from enrolling in a for-profit institution,” wrote the study’s coauthors, Vivian Yuen Ting Liu, a senior research assistant at the CCRC, and Clive Belfield, an associate professor of economics at Queens College, which is part of the City University of New York System.
“This penalty appears consistent across subgroups of students, although it is greatest for for-profit students who did not complete an award,” they wrote. “For-profit students gain least over the longer term. Extended over a working life, the differences become much greater.”
Work and study
The research was based on cohorts of students who attended community colleges in two statewide systems.
Among students from the first group, which included data from a longer time range, there were stark differences in the earnings gains one decade after transfer. Students who attended for-profits had a net wage bump of $5,400 over that decade. But public college students saw a $12,300 gain and private college students earned $26,700 more (in 2010 dollars).
The results were more mixed for the second cohort of students, who attended community colleges in a different state.
In that group, students who transferred to a for-profit sometimes earned more than their peers who transferred to other institutions. For example, both men and women who transferred to for-profits earned an average of 18 percent more than students who transferred to public colleges.
One reason for the discrepancy was that the second group was tracked over a shorter period of time. Those students first enrolled in community college a few years earlier than the other, larger group, and therefore had less time in the labor market.
Additionally, students fared better while they were enrolled in for-profits, according to the study.
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/01/28/earnings-lag-community-college-students-who-transfer-profits#ixzz2rpHerPLB

Citation:

The Labor Market Returns to For-Profit Higher Education: Evidence for Transfer Students (A CAPSEE Working Paper)
January 2014

This study examines the labor market gains for students who enrolled at for-profit colleges after beginning their postsecondary education in community college. We use student-level administrative record data from college transcripts, Unemployment Insurance earnings data, and progression data from the National Student Clearinghouse across full entry cohorts of community college students in two statewide systems between 2001 and 2006. We calculate the wage gains to attainment across different student transfer patterns.

We find significant wage penalties to transfer to a for-profit college instead of a public or private nonprofit college. This earnings gap between higher education sectors is consistent but varies in size across subsamples of students. Importantly, it is only identifiable with a sufficient time window across which enrollment and earnings data are available. Students in for-profit colleges have lower opportunity costs in terms of foregone earnings while enrolled in college, but these do not sufficiently compensate for lower earnings growth post-college.
Download the paper: The Labor Market Returns to For-Profit Higher Education: Evidence for Transfer Students
http://capseecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2014/01/labor-market-returns-to-for-profit-higher-education.pdf

CAPSEE project: Project 6: The Role of the For-Profit Sector in Higher Education
http://capseecenter.org/project-6-the-role-of-the-for-profit-sector-in-higher-education/

Here is the press release from Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment:

Community College Students Who Transfer to For-Profit Colleges Earn Less, New Study Finds
Community college students who transfer to for-profit colleges earn less than students who transfer to public or private nonprofit colleges, concludes a new study from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE).
The study is the first to examine the income effects of transferring to a for-profit college from a community college. Earlier studies, including a recent study from CAPSEE, have compared earnings for students who attend community colleges and for-profit colleges and found that students who attend for-profit colleges are less likely to be employed after college and earn less on average than community college students.
For this study, CAPSEE researchers analyzed the earnings of 80,000 first-time, degree-seeking students who enrolled in community college during the 2000s and transferred to another college or university. Student incomes were tracked via state unemployment insurance data through the beginning of 2012.
The study found that there were significant differences in the community college students who chose to transfer to a for-profit institution: Black and Hispanic students, and students who performed poorly and accrued fewer credits at the community college were far more likely to transfer to a for-profit than a nonprofit or public college.
Even when controlling for these differences in student characteristics, however, the study found that students who transferred to for-profit colleges earned 6–7 percent less than students who transferred to nonprofit or public institutions.
The study also found that students who transferred to for-profit colleges had higher earnings whilst in college. Students who attended for-profit colleges saw a decline in income of $130–$270 per quarter; by comparison, the decline in income for students enrolled in public colleges was four times larger, and the decline for students at nonprofit colleges was ten times larger. This difference—the lower ‘opportunity cost’ of attending for-profit colleges—may explain why these colleges are attractive to low-income students.
However, the earning gains after leaving college were significantly higher for public and nonprofit college students. Over time these gains more than offset the ‘opportunity cost’ differences. Looking over ten years, for-profit students experienced net earnings gains of only $5,400, whereas public and nonprofit college students experienced gains of $12,300 and $26,700 respectively. These figures do not account for the higher tuition costs at for-profit colleges.
The wage penalty for transferring to a for-profit college was consistent across subgroups of students, although the penalty was greatest for for-profit students who did not complete a degree.
Bookmark the permalink.

Victor Hugo said it best when dealing with many for-profit colleges:

Caution is the eldest child of wisdom
Victor Hugo

Resources:

College accreditation – U.S. Department of Education
http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/

College Accreditation: Frequently Asked Questions
http://www.back2college.com/library/accreditfaq.htm

Ask questions before deciding on a for-profit college [Video]
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/02/questions-deciding-for-profit-college-video.html

For Profit Colleges: Get the Facts
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/for-profit-colleges/

Related:

Buyer beware of some for-profit colleges
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/buyer-beware-of-some-for-profit-colleges/

For-profit colleges: Money buys government, not quality for students https://drwilda.com/2011/12/12/for-profit-colleges-money-buys-government-not-quality-for-students/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©

http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©

https://drwilda.com/

University of Pennsylvania study: MOOCs are not bringing the level playing field to education that many thought

24 Nov

Moi wrote in MOOCs are trying to discover a business model which works: Jon Marcus reported in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/online-course-startups-offer-virtually-free-college/2012/01/09/gIQAEJ6VGQ_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend
The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/education/25future.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
Whether MOOCS can develop a business model is discussed in the Economist article, The attack of the MOOCs: An army of new online courses is scaring the wits out of traditional universities. But can they find a viable business model? http://www.economist.com/news/business/21582001-army-new-online-courses-scaring-wits-out-traditional-universities-can-they
https://drwilda.com/2013/07/21/moocs-are-trying-to-discover-a-business-model-which-works/

Steve Kolowich reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, MOOCs Are Largely Reaching Privileged Learners, Survey Finds:

Most people who take massive open online courses already hold a degree from a traditional institution, according to a new paper from the University of Pennsylvania.
The paper is based on a survey of 34,779 students worldwide who took 24 courses offered by Penn professors on the Coursera platform. The findings—among the first from outside researchers, rather than MOOC providers—reinforce the truism that most people who take MOOCs are already well educated.
The Penn researchers sent the survey to students who had registered for a MOOC and viewed at least one video lecture. More than 80 percent of the respondents had a two- or four-year degree, and 44 percent had some graduate education.
The pattern was true not only of MOOC students in the United States but also learners in other countries. In some foreign countries where MOOCs are popular, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population,” according to the paper.
In other developing countries, about 80 percent of the MOOC students surveyed already held college degrees—a number staggeringly out of proportion with the share of degree holders in the general population.
“The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most—those without access to higher education in developing countries—are underrepresented among the early adopters,” write the paper’s six authors…
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/moocs-are-reaching-only-privileged-learners-survey-finds/48567

Edward Luce of the Financial Times chimed in writing in the article, Moocs are no magic bullet for educating Americans.

Luce writes:

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/141591a0-5399-11e3-9250-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2ldNWNaPf
Where does all this leave the Moocs? As the techno-optimists keep pointing out, we can now download the Library of Congress and Ivy League lectures for free. A few motivated groups, such as older employees trying to keep pace, reservists in the US military and ambitious youngsters in places such as India, tend to finish online degrees. But most people, including Mr Thrun’s enrollees, rapidly lose interest. The real challenge facing US educators, in other words, is to motivate the unenthused majority. This is far easier said than done. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.
Insurance companies call America’s millennial generation the “invincibles”, because the young rarely worry about their health. But I prefer Mr Cowen’s moniker of the “limbo generation”, since they are worried sick about their financial prospects. The newest portion of the US workforce is saddled with more than $1tn of debts in a market that isn’t paying. Those who thrive in this less forgiving world will be savvy enough to tap the boundless resources they can get from Moocs in particular and the internet in general. Alas, Udacity’s setback reminds us that they are almost certainly in a minority. At best computers can offer a partial answer to America’s education crisis. Though we tend to cost more, the rest of it is down to human beings.
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/141591a0-5399-11e3-9250-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz2lanl53pU

Citation:

Nov 23 at 8:39 PM
The MOOC Phenomenon: Who Takes Massive Open Online Courses and Why?
Gayle Christensen

Office of the Provost, University of Pennsylvania
Andrew Steinmetz

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania
Brandon Alcorn

Office of the Provost, University of Pennsylvania
Amy Bennett

Office of the Provost, University of Pennsylvania
Deirdre Woods
Office of the Provost, University of Pennsylvania

Ezekiel J Emanuel
Office of the Provost, Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Department of Health Care Management, University of Pennsylvania

November 6, 2013

Abstract:
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have commanded considerable public attention due to their sudden rise and disruptive potential. But there are no robust, published data that describe who is taking these courses and why they are doing so. As such, we do not yet know how transformative the MOOC phenomenon can or will be. We conducted an online survey of students enrolled in at least one of the University of Pennsylvania’s 32 MOOCs offed on the Coursera platform. The student population tends to be young, well educated, and employed, with a majority from developed countries. There are significantly more males than females taking MOOCs, especially in BRIC and other developing countries. Students’ main reasons for taking a MOOC are advancing in their current job and satisfying curiosity. The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most — those without access to higher education in developing countries — are underrepresented among the early adopters.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, Online Education, Distance Education
working papers series

With any education opportunity the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives. In answer to the question of whether online college is a threat to traditional bricks and mortar universities, it depends. The market will answer that question because many students do not attend college to receive a liberal arts education, but to increase employment opportunities. If the market accepts badges and certificates, then colleges may be forced to look at the costs associated with a traditional college degree.

Related:

Verifying identity for online courses https://drwilda.com/2012/04/15/verifying-identity-for-online-courses/

Will ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCS) begin to offer credit? https://drwilda.com/2012/11/14/will-massive-open-online-courses-moocs-begin-to-offer-credit/

Is online higher ed a threat to bricks and mortar colleges? https://drwilda.com/2012/09/17/is-online-higher-ed-a-threat-to-bricks-and-mortar-colleges/

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MOOCs are trying to discover a business model which works

21 Jul

Moi wrote about MOOCs in Can free online universities change the higher education model?
Often these online ventures will offer a certificate or badge to show completion of a course of study. Education Portal defines the difference between a certificate and diploma:

Certificate Overview
A certificate is earned by a student after taking a series of courses relating to a subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest and certificates may be offered in similar programs as degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical programs. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.
There are also graduate certificates, often taken either alone or alongside a graduate degree program. In some programs, the student may use his or her electives to fulfill a certificate in order to make him or herself more desirable to a potential employer.
Certificate programs taken alone are similar to associate’s degree programs. However, they take less time because core academic programs are not required.
Diploma Overview
Diplomas are similar to certificates but often earned at clinical schools. For instance, a diploma of nursing is offered as an option besides an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. This diploma program is only offered at hospitals with specialty programs that provide training. A diploma often takes two years and involves as much clinical work as classroom.
Degree Overview
An academic degree can be earned at many levels, including associate’s, which takes two years, bachelor’s, which takes four years, master’s, which is two years beyond a bachelor’s degree, and doctoral, which is several years beyond a master’s degree.
A degree program differs from certificates and diploma programs in that it often requires the student to take core courses to support a more rounded education. For instance, at many universities, those earning their bachelor’s degree are required to take English, math, science, philosophy and history. Earning a degree also opens up many more potential doors to the student than would a certificate or diploma. Many careers require that the student has earned at least a bachelor’s degree; several career options require more than this. http://education-portal.com/articles/What_is_the_Difference_Between_a_Certificate_Diploma_and_Degree.html

Some online universities are awarding badges.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy reports in the U.S. News article, Digital Badges Could Significantly Impact Higher Education:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced that it was launching a competition that will award $2 million to companies and organizations that can develop workable digital badges and badge systems.
The digital badge concept has gained friends in lofty places. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NASA administrator Charles Bolden and other high-level business, philanthropic, and technology leaders attended the kick off of the digital badge competition announcement. Duncan, who called the digital badges a “game-changing strategy,” had this to say: “Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate—as well as document and display—their skills.”
Americans could earn badges through skills and knowledge that they get in a variety of ways including informally, through their workplace, open courseware and other online classes, and even traditional colleges. http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-solution/2011/10/04/digital-badges-could-significantly-impact-higher-education

https://drwilda.com/2012/01/23/can-free-online-universities-change-the-higher-education-model/

Jon Marcus reported in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/online-course-startups-offer-virtually-free-college/2012/01/09/gIQAEJ6VGQ_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend
The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/education/25future.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Whether MOOCS can develop a business model is discussed in the Economist article, The attack of the MOOCs: An army of new online courses is scaring the wits out of traditional universities. But can they find a viable business model?

DOTCOM mania was slow in coming to higher education, but now it has the venerable industry firmly in its grip. Since the launch early last year of Udacity and Coursera, two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete. Meanwhile, the MOOCs have multiplied in number, resources and student recruitment—without yet having figured out a business model of their own.
Besides providing online courses to their own (generally fee-paying) students, universities have felt obliged to join the MOOC revolution to avoid being guillotined by it. Coursera has formed partnerships with 83 universities and colleges around the world, including many of America’s top-tier institutions…..
Besides the uncertainty over which business model, if any, will produce profits, there is disagreement over how big the market will be. Some see a zero- or negative-sum game, in which cheap online providers radically reduce the cost of higher education and drive many traditional institutions to the wall. Others believe this effect will be dwarfed by the dramatic increase in access to higher education that the MOOCs will bring.
Mr Feerick predicts that the market will be commoditised, spelling trouble for many institutions. But Anant Agarwal, the boss of EdX, reckons the MOOC providers will be more like online airline-booking services, expanding the market by improving the customer experience. Sebastian Thrun, Udacity’s co-founder, thinks the effect will be similar in magnitude to what the creation of cinema did to demand for staged fiction: he predicts a tenfold increase in the market for higher education.
Sceptics point to the MOOCs’ high drop-out rates, which in some cases exceed 90%. But Coursera and Udacity both insist that this reflects the different expectations of consumers of free products, who can browse costlessly. Both firms have now studied drop-out rates for those students who start with the stated intention of finishing, and found that the vast majority of them complete the courses.
Besides LearnCapital, a Silicon Valley venture firm, and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the participants in Coursera’s $43m fund-raising included Laureate, an operator of for-profit universities. Doug Becker, its boss, reckons that many established universities will soon offer credits towards their degrees for those who complete MOOCs. He thinks this will drive a dramatic reduction in the price of a traditional higher education, that will reduce the total revenues of existing providers by far more than the revenue gained by the start-ups. Still, if MOOCs reduce the cost of higher education by one-third, as he predicts, yet only earn for themselves 1% of that benefit, that would “still be a very nice business,” he says.
http://www.economist.com/news/business/21582001-army-new-online-courses-scaring-wits-out-traditional-universities-can-they

With any education opportunity the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives. In answer to the question of whether online college is a threat to traditional bricks and mortar universities, it depends. The market will answer that question because many students do not attend college to receive a liberal arts education, but to increase employment opportunities. If the market accepts badges and certificates, then colleges may be forced to look at the costs associated with a traditional college degree.

Related:

Verifying identity for online courses https://drwilda.com/2012/04/15/verifying-identity-for-online-courses/
Will ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCS) begin to offer credit? https://drwilda.com/2012/11/14/will-massive-open-online-courses-moocs-begin-to-offer-credit/
Is online higher ed a threat to bricks and mortar colleges? https://drwilda.com/2012/09/17/is-online-higher-ed-a-threat-to-bricks-and-mortar-colleges/

Where information leads to Hope. ©  Dr. Wilda.com
 
Dr. Wilda says this about that ©
 
Blogs by Dr. Wilda:
 
COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                      http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/
 
Dr. Wilda Reviews ©   http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/
 
Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Can free online universities change the higher education model?

23 Jan

The Pew Research Center has a recent report, Is College Worth It?

Executive Summary

This report is based on findings from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys conducted this spring. One is a telephone survey taken among a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 two-year and four-year private, public and for-profit colleges and universities. (See the our survey methodology for more information.)

Here is a summary of key findings from the full report:

Survey of the General Public

Cost and Value. A majority of Americans (57%) say the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend. An even larger majority (75%) says college is too expensive for most Americans to afford. At the same time, however, an overwhelming majority of college graduates (86%) say that college has been a good investment for them personally.

Monetary Payoff. Adults who graduated from a four-year college believe that, on average, they are earning $20,000 more a year as a result of having gotten that degree. Adults who did not attend college believe that, on average, they are earning $20,000 a year less as a result. These matched estimates by the public are very close to the median gap in annual earnings between a high school and college graduate as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010: $19,550. A more detailed Pew Research Center analysis (see Chapter 5, “The Monetary Value of a College Education,” in the full report for more information) shows that this gap varies by type of degree and field of study.

Student Loans. A record share of students are leaving college with a substantial debt burden, and among those who do, about half (48%) say that paying off that debt made it harder to pay other bills; a quarter say it has made it harder to buy a home (25%); and about a quarter say it has had an impact on their career choices (24%).

Why Not College? Nearly every parent surveyed (94%) says they expect their child to attend college, but even as college enrollments have reached record levels, most young adults in this country still do not attend a four-year college. The main barrier is financial. Among adults ages 18 to 34 who are not in school and do not have a bachelor’s degree, two-thirds say a major reason for not continuing their education is the need to support a family. Also, 57% say they would prefer to work and make money and 48% say they can’t afford to go to college.

Split Views of College Mission. Just under half of the public (47%) says the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge, while 39% say it is to help a student grow personally and intellectually; the remainder volunteer that both missions are equally important. College graduates place more emphasis on intellectual growth; those who are not college graduates place more emphasis on career preparation.

For Most College Graduates, Missions Accomplished. Among survey respondents who graduated from a four-year college, 74% say their college education was very useful in helping them grow intellectually, 69% say it was very useful in helping them grow and mature as a person, and 55% say it was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career.

Above All, Character. While Americans value college, they value character even more. Asked what it takes for a young person to succeed in the world, 61% say a good work ethic is extremely important and 57% say the same about knowing how to get along with people. Just 42% say the same about a college education.

Beckie Supiano and Elyse Ashburn have written With New Lists, Federal Government Moves to Help Consumers and Prod Colleges to Limit Price Increases in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the U.S. Department of Education’s new site about college costs. As college becomes more unaffordable for more and more people, they are looking at alternatives to college.

Jon Marcus reports in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college:

An emerging group of entrepreneurs with influential backing is seeking to lower the cost of higher education from as much as tens of thousands of dollars a year to nearly nothing.

These new arrivals are harnessing the Internet to offer online courses, which isn’t new. But their classes are free, or almost free. Most traditional universities have refused to award academic credit for such online studies.

Now the start-ups are discovering a way around that monopoly, by inventing credentials that “graduates” can take directly to employers instead of university degrees.

If I were the universities, I might be a little nervous,” said Alana Harrington, director of Saylor.
org
, a nonprofit organization based in the District. Established by entrepreneur Michael Saylor, it offers 200 free online college courses in 12 majors.

Another nonprofit initiative is Peer-to-Peer University, based in California. Known as P2PU, it offers free online courses and is supported by the Hewlett Foundation and Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Web browser.

A third is University of the People, also based in California, which offers more than 40 online courses. It charges students a one-time $10 to $50 application fee. Among its backers is the Clinton Global Initiative.

The content these providers supply comes from top universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, Tufts University and the University of Michigan. Those are among about 250 institutions worldwide that have put a collective 15,000 courses online in what has become known as the open-courseware movement.

The universities aim to widen access to course content for prospective students and others. At MIT, a pioneer of open courseware, half of incoming freshmen report that they’ve looked at MIT online courses and a third say it influenced their decision to go there.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/online-course-startups-offer-virtually-free-college/2012/01/09/gIQAEJ6VGQ_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/education/25future.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Many free online colleges are not accredited. As an example, University of the People states this in their catalog:

RECOGNITION

At present, University of the People is not an accredited institution. The University is in the process of preparing the necessary materials to apply for accreditation from an agency recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. At this time no assurances can be given as to when, or if, accreditation might be granted.

University of the People offers the following four degrees: Associate (A.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.) degrees in Computer Science and Associate (A.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.) degrees in Business Administration.

University of the People does not have a pending petition in bankruptcy, is not operating as a debtor in possession, has not filed a petition within the preceding five years, and has not had a petition in bankruptcy filed against it within the preceding five years that resulted in a reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. Sec. 1101 et. seq.).

NOTICE CONCERNING THE TRANSFERABILITY OF CREDITS AND CREDENTIALS EARNED AT OUR INSTITUTION

The transferability of credits you earn at University of the People is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the degree you earn in either the Computer Science or Business Administration program is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degree that you earn at this institution are not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your course work at that institution. For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending University of the People to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.

Contact Information

For questions or comments, please contact: info@uopeople.org

http://www.uopeople.org/files/Pdf/university_catalog.pdf

Before signing-up for any course of study, people must investigate the claims of the institution of higher learning regarding graduation rates and placement after completion of the degree. The U.S. Department of Education has an accredidation database and you can always check with the department of education for your state. Back to College has a good explanation of College Accredidation: Frequently Asked Questions

Often these online ventures will offer a certificate or badge to show completion of a course of study. Education Portal defines the difference between a certificate and diploma:

Certificate Overview

A certificate is earned by a student after taking a series of courses relating to a subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest and certificates may be offered in similar programs as degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical programs. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.

There are also graduate certificates, often taken either alone or alongside a graduate degree program. In some programs, the student may use his or her electives to fulfill a certificate in order to make him or herself more desirable to a potential employer.

Certificate programs taken alone are similar to associate’s degree programs. However, they take less time because core academic programs are not required.

Diploma Overview

Diplomas are similar to certificates but often earned at clinical schools. For instance, a diploma of nursing is offered as an option besides an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. This diploma program is only offered at hospitals with specialty programs that provide training. A diploma often takes two years and involves as much clinical work as classroom.

Degree Overview

An academic degree can be earned at many levels, including associate’s, which takes two years, bachelor’s, which takes four years, master’s, which is two years beyond a bachelor’s degree, and doctoral, which is several years beyond a master’s degree.

A degree program differs from certificates and diploma programs in that it often requires the student to take core courses to support a more rounded education. For instance, at many universities, those earning their bachelor’s degree are required to take English, math, science, philosophy and history. Earning a degree also opens up many more potential doors to the student than would a certificate or diploma. Many careers require that the student has earned at least a bachelor’s degree; several career options require more than this. http://education-portal.com/articles/What_is_the_Difference_Between_a_Certificate_Diploma_and_Degree.html

Some online universities are awarding badges.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy reports in the U.S. News article, Digital Badges Could Significantly Impact Higher Education:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced that it was launching a competition that will award $2 million to companies and organizations that can develop workable digital badges and badge systems.

The digital badge concept has gained friends in lofty places. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NASA administrator Charles Bolden and other high-level business, philanthropic, and technology leaders attended the kick off of the digital badge competition announcement. Duncan, who called the digital badges a “game-changing strategy,” had this to say: “Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate—as well as document and display—their skills.”

Americans could earn badges through skills and knowledge that they get in a variety of ways including informally, through their workplace, open courseware and other online classes, and even traditional colleges.

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-college-solution/2011/10/04/digital-badges-could-significantly-impact-higher-education

With any education opportunity the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Buyer beware of some for-profit colleges

25 Nov

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has a report which details just how far from bargains some for-profit schools are.

According to the Washington Post article, GAO: 15 For-profi Colleges Used Deceptive Recruiting Tactics written by Daniel de Vise and Paul Kane some for-profit schools used deceptive practices to recruit students.

Congressional officials on Wednesday identified 15 for-profit colleges where recruiters allegedly encouraged investigators posing as prospective students to commit fraud on financial aid applications or misled them about such matters as tuition costs and potential salaries after graduation.

The Government Accountability Office’s findings, presented to a congressional committee along with grainy video clips captured by hidden cameras, may amplify federal scrutiny of the fastest-growing higher-education sector.

Many of the largest for-profit entities were named among the 15 sites targeted by GAO investigators: University of Phoenix, with more than 400,000 students; Argosy University, part of the 136,000-student Education Management Corp.; Kaplan College, part of the 119,000-student Kaplan Higher Education operation owned by The Washington Post Co.; and Everest College, part of the 110,000-student Corinthian Colleges.

Also named: Westech College in California, Bennett Career Institute and Potomac College in the District, MedVance Institute in Florida, College of Office Technology in Illinois, Anthem Institute in Pennsylvania, and Westwood College and ATI Career Training in Texas. Kaplan, Everest and Phoenix each were cited twice, for different campuses.

Four of the colleges — Westech, MedVance, Anthem and Westwood — “encouraged fraudulent practices” in meetings with undercover investigators, the report says. All 15 “made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements.”

At a morning Senate hearing, some of the most powerful revelations came in a brief video presentation, spliced together from hidden-camera feeds….

For-profit or “career” colleges have grown in enrollment from 365,000 students to nearly two million over the past several years, and their students borrowed more than $20 billion in federal loans last year. With so many tax dollars at stake, Congress asked the GAO to determine whether the sector has engaged in fraud, deception or questionable marketing practices, as its critics allege.

Across official Washington, reaction to the findings and the video was swift and unequivocal.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan termed the apparent evidence of fraud “unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable.” [Emphasis Added]    

See, Online K-12 education as a cash cow for ‘Wall Street’ https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/online-k-12-education-as-a-cash-cow-for-wall-street/

Kelly Field is reporting in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Undercover Probe Finds Lax Academic Standards at Some For-Profit Colleges:

An undercover investigation by the Government Accountability Office has found evidence of lax academic standards in some online for-profit programs.

The probe, which is described in a report made public Tuesday, found that staff at six of the 12 colleges that enrolled the investigators tolerated plagiarism or awarded credit for incomplete or shoddy work.

The release of the report, “For-Profit Schools: Experiences of Undercover Students Enrolled in Online Classes at Selected Colleges,” comes roughly a year after the accountability office revised an earlier report on recruiting abuses at for-profit colleges, acknowledging errors and omissions in its findings. A coalition of for-profit colleges has sued the office over that report, accusing its investigators of professional malpractice….

This time, the agents attempted to enroll in online programs at 15 for-profit colleges using a home-school diploma or a diploma from a closed high school. Twelve of the colleges accepted them.

The “students” then proceeded to skip class, plagiarize, and submit “substandard” work. Though several ultimately failed their classes, some got credit for shoddy or plagiarized work along the way.

At one college, a student received credit for six plagiarized assignments; at another, a student submitted photos of political figures and celebrities in lieu of an essay, but still earned a passing grade. A third student got full credit on a final project, despite completing only two of the three required components. That same student received full credit for an assignment that had clearly been prepared for another class.

In two cases, instructors confronted students about their repeated plagiarism but took no disciplinary action against them. One student received credit for a response that was copied verbatim from other students’ discussion posts.

Instructors at the other six colleges followed their institutions’ policies on grading and plagiarism, and in some cases offered to help students who appeared to be struggling.

All of the students ultimately withdrew or were expelled from the programs. Three of the colleges failed to provide the departing students with federally required exit counseling about their repayment options and the consequences of default.

http://chronicle.com/article/Undercover-Probe-Finds-Lax/129881/

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting report by Josh Keller about the tactics used by some for-profit colleges.

In Online Ads Hijack Prospective Students, Former Employee Says Keller reports:

Last year, James Soloway called hundreds of prospective students per day on behalf of a company that placed advertisements on Google and Bing. The ads promised to help students contact the admissions offices of public colleges if they filled out an online form and included their phone number.

He told students that they would hear from their preferred public college, even though they almost never did. In the meantime, he said, they should consider attending a for-profit college—such as Kaplan University and Westwood College.

Most of the prospective students were confused. Some hung up. But sometimes the pitch worked. Some people, especially high-school students, believed he was an educational counselor and gave weight to his recommendations, he says.

The entire process was designed to redirect students who wanted information on a public college to a for-profit college, Mr. Soloway says. “The expectation was that we were not to allow a call to end with a student until we had created three private-school leads.”

Victor Hugo said it best when dealing with many for-profit colleges:           

Caution is the eldest child of wisdom
~Victor Hugo

Resources:

College accreditation – U.S. Department of Education

http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/

College Accreditation: Frequently Asked Questions

http://www.back2college.com/library/accreditfaq.htm

Ask questions before deciding on a for-profit college [Video]

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/02/questions-deciding-for-profit-college-video.html

For Profit Colleges: Get the Facts

http://www.education.com/magazine/article/for-profit-colleges/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©