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Online learning caucus coming to Congress

Ed-tech champions say caucus will give lawmakers a better grasp of online education during policy debates

Online learning caucus coming to Congress

Members of the eLearning caucus have not been announced.

Two members of Congress formed an eLearning caucus last month–a much-needed Capitol Hill forum, educators said, after a recent survey showed Congressional representatives and their staffers lacked a basic understanding of online education.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., a conservative House member, and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., among his party’s most liberal members, created the eLearning caucus Oct. 5 to “promote research on successes and failures in eLearning so that federal education funds are used prudently, and to ensure policy is aligned with practice,” according to a “dear colleague” letter written by Noem and Polis.

A poll conducted this year by the Presidents Forum, a group of online colleges that primarily serve adult learners, showed policy makers were unfamiliar with up-to-date web-based learning. Many on Capitol Hill thought distance learning was still conducted primary through correspondence classes, and survey respondents said online programs were only equivalent to classroom learning if a large institution created and administered the curriculum.

“There was very little understanding of the impact of current technology,” said Paul Shiffman, executive director of the Presidents Forum. “Both staff and [Congressional] members come from a place and time identified primarily with traditional education. They have not been in contact with most recent methodologies … so there’s a void of knowledge there.”

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Comment:

  1. leelehmen

    November 14, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Sooner this void of knowledge bridged the better for if policymakers do not know what future potential online education holds, nothing could be done. We live in a country where grants for campus education are numerous; which means education sector is largely subsidized. Therefore, private sector on its own cannot do justice with the requirements of fast growth of online learning. More than just subsidizing online education, legislature needs to understand the importance of Research and development. To know that our legislature still holds conservative view about virtual means is quite disheartening and I would hope that we people conduct seminars to educate them further about this so that they could appropriately visualize the reality.

    Regards leelehmen
    http://www.askforeducation.com/