Accreditation in Distance Education
Choosing the appropriate school for Higher Education is a major decision that all students must face. The world of accreditation is slowly changing, generally in the direction of dealing more with outcomes: how schools teach or train their students and how well the students perform (Bear, Nixon 2006, 37) Making sure that the school has the courses they desire, flexibility and if it is affordable to them are all issues that must be looked at but the most important aspect of the decision is finding out about the school’s accreditation. Accreditation is a validation process by which institutions of higher ...view middle of the document...
Most of the research for online education is done within that University or colleges education department but it is typically used train faculty from other departments and institutions around the world. The faculty’s initiative and support for online education will display the school’s overall attitude toward distance education. One final indicator would if the university or college has obtained a membership to a consortium or any type of group of like minded institutions. Having this membership does not guarantee quality of the school or that they are accredited but unlikely will an unaccredited institution seek to gain membership into such. As a member of a consortium universities and colleges will have access to training, research in the field and will practices that ensure cutting edge quality.
Accreditation is necessary for higher education but it is also the most misunderstood and complex issue. Before choosing the correct school it is important to understand exactly what accreditation is, why it is important, the different types of accreditation, and the validity of a schools accreditation. Accreditation is truly an American concept, at least with the definition that we use foe accreditation. In countries such as Australia and England, the schools do not have to an acceptance for their degree. The United States is the only country that will question if an obtained degree is from an accredited institution. This is not a requirement in most other countries because their accreditation is not conducted by the government. Our process is a little different as it is a voluntary process that is implemented by private accrediting agencies. This process is not easily controlled so there are all types of accreditating agencies; good ones, bad ones, recognized and unrecognized agencies, legitimate and phony ones.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the primary national voice for voluntary accreditation and quality assurance to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. According to the CHEA Institute for Research and Study of Accreditations and Quality Assurance, recognized accrediting commissions, associations and agencies routinely review the following seven key areas of institutional activity when they examine the quality of distance learning programs (Rovai, Ponton, and Baker 2008, p.62).
• Institutional resources: Does the institution sustain adequate financing to offer quality distance learning?
• Curriculum and instruction: Does the institution have appropriate curricula and design of instruction to offer quality distance learning?
• Faculty Support: Are faculty members competent to engage in offering distance learning, and do they have adequate resources, facilites, and equipment?
• Student Support: Do students have needed counseling, advising, equipment, facilities and instructional materials to pursue distance learning?
• Institutional organizational structure: Is the institution...