Is the Accrediting Industry ready for the rise and challenge of the e-learning education?

Individual online learning courses and even entire online degree programs are increasingly a part of the mainstream in higher education. 

Article by Diane Shawe M.Ed.  IEBE

Steadily-improving online delivery systems and an emphasis on globalisation have encouraged more and more higher education institutions to try to reach diverse learners around the world.  In light of the growing population of learners from various cultural backgrounds engaged in online education, there is an urgent need to understand how accreditation of an online e-learning provider can reach across all cultural dimensions.

Distance Education has been around for more than a decade now. The ever changing landscape of education through technological innovations has allowed distance education in necessitating strict quality control measures to comply with. Thus, accreditation plays a primary role in ensuring quality in Distance Education system. Accreditation is a process through which institutions offering higher education are analysed by internal and external peer review. 

Distance education is not a new phenomenon, and accreditors have been reviewing online courses for a long time now. Accreditation for these distance learning programs involve regional, national, and specialised bodies along with the governmental and public organisations that rely heavily on review of quality of these providers.

One such value has been to illustrate the necessity of accrediting distance education with respect to the rise in public and private education providers. Distance learning poses great challenges to the arena of accreditation mainly by transforming the traditional faculty into online faculty and diminishing the value of physical one on one interaction with students.

Distance learning represents a challenge to the accreditation agencies by modifying the meaning of “higher education institutions” by removing the brick and mortar lecture halls with web based chat rooms, and brick and mortar campuses institutes to a website. An academic provider is no longer restricted to the existence of a physical infrastructure, it can be found anywhere, anytime – all one needs is a computer or smartphone and access to internet.

Distance Education challenges the accreditation system by modifying the face of what we know as a college or a university degree. Electronic access not only encourages but also supports a more mobile form of a student behaviour through which students are enrolled in more than one institution at a time. The National Vocational Qualifications has taken a newer meaning and involves a richer blended learning of educational courses being taken by a student and delivered through multiple technological mediums.

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning approach training is one that combines face-to-face instruction with online instruction and activities. A wide variety of methods can be used to interact with a blended learning course; technology such as mobile devices, computers, video conferencing, and other electronic media to name a few. The goal of blended learning is to provide a useful, practical way for learners and instructors to get and provide material in more ways than simple face-to-face interaction.

 

The online component of blended learning allows instructors and students to stay connected. Interact anytime, anywhere Distance Education and the ever changing role of education providers in this era are obviating the need for:

  • Recognizing the characteristics of distance education provision be it a traditional classroom or online chat room;
  • Altering guidelines for accreditation, strategies or principles to ensure quality within the distinguished model of distance education delivery; and
  • Paying extensive consideration to the achievement of the students and outcomes in the electronic environment of distance education whereby structured classroom facilities are not available.

As Academy of Vocational and Professional Training roles out its interactive soft skill online e-learning express courses selecting a scalable global accreditation company has become increasingly important.

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