Distance Learning, Web Sites, and Accreditation

Article excerpt

The authors discuss the growth of distance learning via the Internet, list a number of relevant web sites, and relate both to the institutional accreditation issue.

Introduction

How do Pacific Western University (www.pwu-hi.edu) and Phoenix University (www.uophx.ed/online) differ? Both claim to be accredited, but one may not be. Wording is cautious here to avoid litigation. However, looking at their web sites, one can not see any difference. In terms of long distance learning, web sites give the appearance of legitimacy. Thus, business colleges become virtual universities and trades school transform into colleges. It is very difficult to know if the college is accredited and it's educational value.

According to the OMAHA WORLD HERALD and a recent story in U.S. NEWS&WORLD REPORT, this was the problem for Nila Nielsen, a Principal of an elementary school in Omaha, Nebraska. She was hired even though her Ph.D. was not accredited. She retains this leadership position because of her accredited master's degree. The web site and the printed literature and catalog obtained by the authors from Nielsen's non-accredited university cleverly disguises it non-accreditation.

Parenthetically, one of the authors has been involved in analyzing alternative and distance learning since the 70's. Further, the primary author has discussed non-accredited programs by phone with presidents of non-accredited schools, traveled 1100 miles to visit a non-accredited school and joined a non-accredited university by paying a non-refundable $200.00 entry fee and remaining a student for one month. All the authors have been involved in teaching distance learning and creating courses for this educational medium. So it would appear that the authors have some knowledge pertaining to this arena of education.

Relative to non-accredited schools, in every instance, the web site and supporting catalog literature are excellent. In other words, distance learning means that determining lawful accreditation has grown that much more difficult for a new student. To further complicate matters, numerous industries are now creating their own educational curriculum and certification system by utilizing accredited schools. Although the schools provide the education, the ultimate certification is by the industry. Much of this, can be done with distance learning.

Further, a best selling author has a non-accredited doctorate from a school with an excellent web site and supporting print literature. It advertises that it does not want accreditation, because it wants employer to judge the applicant by their talents. Thus, this gives further credibility to non-accreditation.

Last, non-accredited schools with their web site listing are now advertised in some of the most credible glossy, large circulation periodicals (magazines.) Their advertisements are intermingled with accredited schools and their website logos.

It would appear that education is once again in a quandary because of the new technology of the computer. Distance learning and web site promotion sully the issue of accreditation.

Internet

By the very nature of distance learning, the protocols are similar to non-accredited schools. The difference is one of rigor. How can one determine if the school, web site, and literature portray a lawful accredited school?

The authors suggest the following: 1) check (www.chea.org) this should give you the latest schools that are accredited by some 35 bogus accreditation systems 2) check (www.degree.net) will give you Dr. John Bear's home page. He is the premier authority in these matters and 3) check all the numerous search engines such as infoseek, lycos, excite, and yahoo. A good example is (yahoo>education>distance learning> colleges and universities.)

Supporting Literature

The authors recommend that the reader look at these sources for more information. …