Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Online Education to become a Common Market Place for Online Learners

A set of educational organisations and state officials unveiled a proposed compact among the states with the intention to create a so-called common market for online education so that students can easily enrol from anywhere they wish. Besides, the proposal also aims to set certain standardised consumer protections that would give students the space to approach their regulators with complaints regarding any issue.

English: The United States Esperanto: Loko de ...
English: The United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the United States, there are nearly seven million students who are presently accessing college programmes online. However, the rules and regulations designed to authorise the universities offering those courses differ from state to state. Out of them, there are many who date back to the pre-internet period, that is, the time when a college used to operate solely in the state where they sustained a physical presence. Well, this has led to confusions affecting negatively the worldwide distribution of online courses.

Although most of the reputed non-profit as well as for-profit online providers have made lump sum investments to seek approval for letting students enrol in all the fifty states, some states like Minnesota, Arkansas and Massachusetts have turned down students. Confusions also popped up on behalf of the system when they identified issues like what would happen if students migrate to such a state having unaccredited institutions.

The proposed compact moreover will act as a kind of an agreement among the states that will require legislation in some cases, whereas all the states would require voluntary buy-in. States imposing stringent requirements might express reluctance in joining. The organisers however said that the proposal has given rise to extensive work where all the constituencies will have to contribute a lot. In fact, it is being expected that the representatives of 47 states will soon be taking steps in the form of implementations.

What’s the best and innovative part of the compact is that the regulators can willingly address student’s complaints made against institutions based in California to somewhere else. If somehow they fail to do so, they might be expelled from the compact. As per Michael Goldstein, an attorney in Washington, those states imposing stringent requirements on institutions might need to be a bit flexible since it might give rise to a new layer of state-level accountability.

Well, the compact wouldn’t have any negative effect on the international students pursuing courses from the United States. Even the MOOCs would not be affected in any way offered by reputed universities through accredited platforms like Coursera, edX and Udacity.
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