LoboLinks | Setting the Bar: Accreditation for Online Education

Setting the Bar: Accreditation for Online Education

Date Added: July 09, 2008 02:45:24 PM
Category: EDUCATION: Online Education
There are currently thousands of on-line educational institutions and learning centers offering Americans a fast, yet costly education from their home computer. Just simply do a quick search on the Internet using the phrase "online education" and you'll quickly render over 1.8 billion hits. Unfortunately, not all of these universities and online education sources are accredited; in fact, only a very few thousand have earned accreditation. The Council for Higher Education and Accreditation accompanied with the United States Department of Education has set up strict guidelines that govern accreditation by these online schools. Enrolling in an accredited online education program offers students several advantages when compared to enrolling in a non-accredited online education source; for example, only accredited schools are recognized under the Federal government's guidelines concerning financial aid. As well, most other universities and colleges will not recognize or transfer credit from non-accredited educational sources. Many people have even found that the degrees and certificates from non-accredited online educational sources are nothing more than useless sheets of paper.

Accreditation keeps online educators honest and keeps their quality of education at a superior level. Both the CHEA and the USDE review higher education programs for quality assurance and quality improvement. For those institutes and online learning centers that wish to become accredited; the process is rather lengthy. There are five steps in the accreditation process; the first being self-study; a written summary of your programs overall performance based upon federal guidelines established by the USDE. The second key feature that must be met is peer review; an in-depth study performed by instructors, administrators, and the general public. Next, a site review will occur; generally this will entail a visiting team of accredited volunteers that review all programs. After the site review; a judgment will be made regarding accreditation by a set committee. The final step, which is an on-going feature, is monitoring and oversight. Most programs and institutions that are accredited with the CHEA and the USDE will see site reviews on a 2-3 year basis. As well, accredited online educational sources are also required to submit annual reports regarding programs, coursework, and any policy changes that may affect their accreditation.

Currently, both the Council for Higher Education and Accreditation, as well as, the United States Department of Education, has databases available that list all the accredited online education programs available to those that wish to broaden their minds by earning certifications and degrees. The databases can be accessed for free, simply visit www.chea.org for more information. These lists of accredited educational online sources are available to all for varying fees, most are priced per course. As well, the programs available are endless. There are programs available for earning a high school diploma, certifications in varying fields, as well as, both Bachelor's and Master's degree programs. Those wishing to earn a degree can do so from the comfort of their home.