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Comparing Online Programs

By Steve Kolowich

Much of the debate about online higher education turns on comparing online courses to face-to-face ones. But with colleges of every type increasingly venturing into the fray of online teaching regardless, some have turned toward the practical question of comparing online programs with other online programs.

This, too, has been tricky. Kaye Shelton found this out when she was researching her 2005 book, An Administrator’s Guide to Online Education, which she co-authored with George Saltsman, an educational technologist at Abilene Christian University.  “When I came to the chapter on quality, I just ended up chucking it,” says Shelton, now dean of online education at Dallas Baptist University. While attention to online programs as a recruitment battleground was growing, she says, the literature on how to compare quality was just too thin.

Now, with help from the nonprofit Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) and dozens of veteran online education administrators, Shelton has developed a “quality scorecard” that she hopes will serve as a standardized measure for comparing any type of fully online college program, regardless of discipline. “I’m hoping that it will become an industry standard,” Shelton says.

Continued at: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/03/24/consortium_creates_tool_to_compare_quality_of_online_college_programs

View additional information: http://sloanconsortium.org/effective_practices/quality-scorecard-administration-online-education-programs

View the scorecard: http://sloanconsortium.org/quality_scoreboard_online_program

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