Military snubbing cyber-school students

Critics say the military is behind the times and point to the growth on online instruction at all levels of education.

Students graduating from the growing ranks of virtual high schools are running into a hurdle if their goal is to join the military: The Pentagon doesn’t want many recruits with non-traditional diplomas.

Many would-be soldiers like Ryker Packard, 17, of Fassett, Pa., say they weren’t aware the armed services have a policy of not taking more than 10 percent of recruits with a non-traditional high school diploma. Critics, including some in Congress, say the military is behind the times and point to the growth on online instruction at all levels of education, including college degrees.

“It just grinds my gears,” said Packard, who wants to become an Army diesel mechanic after graduating from Pennsylvania’s Agora Cyber Charter School in June.…Read More

New online-learning rule could have worst impact on small states

Online college programs could face high registration fees in many states.

Colleges with online programs might withdraw from states, mostly in the northeast, that have small populations and stringent requirements for distance education courses when the Education Department’s (ED’s) “state authorization” regulation kicks in July 1.

Decision makers from online schools from across the country gathered March 28 at in Washington, D.C. for the annual Presidents’ Forum, hosted by web-based Excelsior College.

Presidents, provosts, and deans decried the state authorization rule, which will require schools to gain approval from every state in which they have a student.…Read More

ED sticks by controversial rule; online college officials concerned

ED's regulation could shrink online education, officials say.

The Education Department (ED) said in a March 17 letter that it would not rescind a controversial new rule requiring online schools that operate nationwide to register with every state in which they have students.

Educators and ed-tech officials said the regulation—known as the state-authorization rule—will mandate the burdensome task of state-by-state certification, imposing a financial strain on web-based colleges that could be passed down to students.

The federal rule, unveiled in October, was scheduled to go into effect July 1. ED officials would now be satisfied with a “good-faith effort” from colleges and universities.…Read More

Fed rule could have ‘major chilling effect’ on online instruction

A proposed federal rule could cripple many online education programs.

Colleges that offer online instruction nationwide would have to get approval from every state in which they operate, or those online courses could be shut down, after the Education Department (ED) proposed a controversial rule that has drawn the ire of educators and distance-education organizations.

The regulation, known as the state-authorization rule, is scheduled to take effect July 1.

It would force colleges and universities that receive federal aid to prove they are certified to operate in every state in which they have online students—a mandate, educators said, that comes at a high cost and could cripple many burgeoning online education programs.…Read More

States look to Indiana as a model for online instruction

There's no limit to the number of credits a WGU student can earn in six months.

Washington state could mimic Indiana’s successful model for online instruction if a state legislator’s proposed bill that would make online college classes more available to students there becomes law.

In a Jan. 6 announcement, Washington State Sen. Jim Kastama, a Democrat, said he soon would propose legislation that would form a partnership between the state and Western Governors University (WGU), a nonprofit online school formed in 1999 with about 20,000 students nationwide.

Kastama said teaming up with the Utah-based WGU would be a way for Washington to meet its “huge unmet need for higher education,” especially during the nation’s economic downturn, when millions have gone back to college to attain extra education while they’re unemployed or underemployed.…Read More

Historically black colleges look to increase online presence

Relatively few online degree programs exist at historically black colleges and universities, though some are trying to change that.

When Michael Hill needed a doctoral program with the flexibility to let him continue working full-time as a Lincoln University administrator, he chose an online degree program from another institution.

With such firsthand experience, Hill is now trying to start an online degree program at Lincoln. It’s one of many historically black colleges and universities that have yet to enter a booming market for online instruction that could be particularly lucrative for black colleges.

Blacks comprised about 12 percent of total enrollment in higher education in 2007 but made up 21 percent of the student population at for-profit institutions—many of which offer online degree programs, according to an American Council on Education report released this year.…Read More

Growth of online instruction continues, though unevenly

Online education programs are now available to at least some K-12 students in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Online instruction continues to grow quickly overall, according to the latest snapshot of online education programs in grades K-12. But the shape and pace of this growth remains uneven throughout the U.S., and two states—Delaware and New York—still don’t offer any opportunities for K-12 students to take classes online.

That’s according to the 2010 edition of “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning,” an annual review of the status of online instruction in the U.S., published by Evergreen Education Group. The latest “Keeping Pace” report says tight budgets, new policy developments, and changing technologies are accelerating the growth of online education programs in some states, while slowing their growth in others.

As of the report’s publication, online education programs were available to at least some K-12 students in 48 states and the District of Columbia, its authors said—but no state provides a full range of opportunities for online instruction, which the report defines as both supplemental and full-time options for students of all grade levels.…Read More

Online-instruction leader to make key changes

Critics charge that for-profit schools are accepting unqualified students.
Critics charge that for-profit schools are accepting unqualified students.

In a move that might trickle down to the rest of the for-profit education market, the University of Phoenix—the nation’s largest provider of online college classes—says it will offer new students a free, three-week trial program to see if they are ready for its curricula and for online instruction in an effort to weed out those at risk of leaving school before earning a degree.

The announcement comes as the federal government ramps up its regulation of for-profit colleges and universities, an industry that critics say preys on many students and leaves them with hefty debt loads and meager job prospects.

But Apollo Group Inc., the company that runs the University of Phoenix, says this change—and others the company will make as it seeks to comply with new federal guidelines—likely will result in fewer opportunities for lower-income students.…Read More

Virtual schools in a fight for adequate funding

Virtual school funding gets 'Do Not Pass Go' in Georgia.
Virtual school funding gets 'Do Not Pass Go' in Georgia.

Heart-wrenching decisions made by state bureaucrats that affect the pursuit of a child’s dream might sound like the makings of a Hollywood movie, but for virtual schools in Georgia and elsewhere, these are par for the course.

Two proposed virtual schools in Georgia got the OK to open this fall, but with very limited funding. Their plans are now on hold while they appeal the state’s decision, which supporters of online instruction say was based on politics and not a careful analysis of the costs necessary to operate a high-quality virtual school. What’s more, virtual school advocates say Georgia is not alone in funding virtual schools at a level that is dramatically lower than what traditional schools receive per pupil.

The two Georgia virtual schools, Kaplan Academy of Georgia and Provost Academy Georgia, were approved in June by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission (GCSC), which also decides how much funding each school should receive.…Read More

Five lessons from the nation’s best online teacher

Teresa Dove was the winner for this year's award.
Teresa Dove of the Florida Virtual School was chosen as the first-ever National Online Teacher of the Year.

Educators who teach in an online setting should foster strong relationships with their students’ parents and should offer plenty of positive feedback, says the nation’s first-ever K-12 Online Teacher of the Year.

Teacher Teresa Dove of the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) last week was chosen as the first winner of this new award, which not only recognizes excellent teaching but also the prevalence, and importance, of online learning across the country.

The award, which recognizes an “outstanding online teacher for exceptional contributions to online K-12 education,” was created by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).…Read More