Trends in Learning:Tracking The impacT of Learning aT communiTy coLLeges
organizations in the United States have adopted and endorsed these guidelines, which are intended for use byaccreditation evaluation teams. The interregional guidelines replace the C-RAC
Statement of Best Practicesfor Electronically Offered Degree and Certiﬁcate Programs
, which the Middle States Commission on HigherEducation published in 2002, and are intended to be used in conjunction with the relevant standards andpolicies of each accreditor.To view the guidelines, visit www.msche.org/publications/Guidelines-for-the-Evaluation-of-Distance-Education-Programs.pdf
open eduCational reSourCeS
“Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed,reused, modiﬁed and shared by anyone,” writes Stephen Downes, senior researcher at the National ResearchUniversity of Canada. The proliferation of smartphones, tablet computers, eBooks, other technology tools,and high-speed Internet access has given students the ability to access high-quality learning materials at nocost. Meanwhile, K-12 schools, states, and the federal government view OERs as a tool to help save preciousﬁnancial resources, as students balk at the ever-increasing cost of textbooks.The publishing community is looking for successful models that can make this trend toward OERs ﬁnanciallysustainable. Additional resources and information about OERs are available from the OpenCourseWareConsortium, Creative Commons, Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, OpenCourse Library, Saylor Foundation, Kaleidoscope Project, OpenLearn and SCORE.
inCreaSing federal engageMent
Not surprisingly, the federal and state government’s interest in distance education has intensiﬁed, as studentdemand and enrollment in distance education has increased. Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965 every four to six years, so distance educators need to pay close attention to any new regulationsCongress may attempt to put in place by 2014. Some key issues include:
If an institution is offering postsecondary education through distance or correspondence educationto students in a State in which it is not physically located, the institution must meet any Staterequirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary distance or correspondence education inthat State. We are further providing that an institution must be able to document upon request by theDepartment that it has the applicable State approval.—Oct. 29, 2010 Amendments to the Higher Education Act ProgramIntegrity Issues, State Authorization, Section §600.9.The Department of Education proposed this regulation in accordance with Congress’ reauthorization ofthe Higher Education Act, also called the Higher Education Opportunities Act in 2008. However, on July12, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down this controversial part of theregulations, stating the Department did not follow proper procedures when it issued this rule in October2010. The Department appealed the court decision on September 8, 2011. Unfortunately, the Senate isunlikely to follow the House of Representative’s February 28, 2012 vote to repeal the state authorizationlegislation, so distance educators must wait to see if the Department’s appeal will succeed.