Berkeley College, NC-SARA, OLC, Quality Matters, and WCET have formulated a set of questions to help students navigate their online education options and determine the environment that best suits their preferences, education goals, and work/life balance.
June 21, 2018 – Online education is now enabling many traditional and non-traditional students to pursue their educational goals and careers. With more than one in three learners taking at least one online course, and one in seven taking all of their courses at a distance, a growing number of students face a challenge to select a program that is right for them.
With an increasing number of institutions offering online programs, the decision for students is no longer about whether to study online but how to choose from the many options available. Web searches produce a confusing array of results. Students need help in sorting through the options to find the online program that best fits their individual needs.
Five organizations with deep expertise in quality online education partnered to help students discover the learning environment that is the best fit for each of them. These organizations, Berkeley College, NC-SARA [National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements], Online Learning Consortium [OLC], Quality Matters and WCET [WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies], collaborated to formulate questions that address essential topics to inform a student’s decision process, categorized as follows:
- academic and professional expectations,
- learning experiences,
- money matters,
- support services, and
“There is significant variation among online programs,” said Deb Adair, Quality Matters Executive Director. “Students shouldn’t assume one size fits all. They need to be prepared to make informed decisions between programs based on the kind of experience, technology, support and outcomes they offer.”
The partners designed a document with questions to aid the student decision-making process and also summarized them in an easy-to-follow infographic, both of which can be found at www.nc-sara.org and www.nc-sara.org/studentquestions.
“With many institutions in their third decade of offering online programs, students have many choices, including not only what to learn and where to learn it, but how they will learn – online, on-campus, or in combination,” said Marshall Hill, Executive Director, NC-SARA. “Armed with these questions, students can better navigate a complex decision process for selecting an online program and career.”
About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, established in 1931, offers Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees, and certificate programs at campuses in New York, New Jersey and online, in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College enrolls approximately 7,100 students, with a global population of students representing nearly 75 countries. The College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies, and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers a Master of Business Administration degree in Management in Woodland Park, NJ, and online. The Office of Career Services collaborates with employers to help fulfill workforce needs, as well as internship/clinical opportunities. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, commonly known as SARA, provide a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. When states join SARA – and membership is voluntary – they agree to follow uniform processes for approving their eligible institutions' participation in SARA. They also agree to deal with other states' SARA institutions in a common way when those institutions carry out activities in SARA states other than their own. SARA's uniform standards and policies help protect students and provide benefits to both states and institutions carrying out distance education in multiple states. As of June, 2018, 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are members of SARA. About 1,800 colleges and universities participate. Visit www.nc-sara.org for more information.
About Online Learning Consortium
The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. Visit http://onlinelearningconsortium.org for more information.
About Quality Matters
Quality Matters (QM) (www.qualitymatters.org) is an international, US-based non-profit organization specializing in standards, processes and professional development for quality assurance in online and blended learning. QM tools and resources are regularly revised to reflect current research and best practices. When you see QM Certification Marks on courses or programs, it means they have met QM Course Design Standards or QM Program Review Criteria in a rigorous review process.
WCET – the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies - is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET is a national, member-driven, non-profit which brings together colleges and universities, higher education organizations and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of e-learning programs. WICHE, WCET's parent organization, is the leading agency serving states, students and institutions throughout and beyond the American West, and is one of four U.S. regional interstate compacts. Learn more: http://wcet.wiche.edu.