Much change, some progress dominate second annual Online Learning Summit

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At the second Online Learning Summit, educators survey a landscape vastly different from a year ago.

Missouri Backlash Against Western Governors U.

Missouri lawmakers have attached to a budget bill a ban on using state student aid at institutions that do not have, for purposes of accreditation, a headquarters in the state. The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that this is an effort to limit the use of state funds at Western Governors University Missouri, an offshoot of the competency-based online university. Governor Jay Nixon is a big proponent of Western Governors, but some legislators say that it will take money that is needed for other institutions in the state.

Email Privacy Policy Proposed for Harvard

A faculty committee has recommended that Harvard University adopt policies designating specific officials to authorize an email search and -- in most cases -- to inform anyone whose email is searched, The Boston Globe reported. The recommendation follows a controversy in 2012 in which many email accounts were secretly searched. Harvard has not had clear policies on the issue, the committee found. The panel said that there needs to be a "legitimate" or "important" reason for such searches. And that reason -- not an email account holder's status as a student or employee or as a certain kind of employee, such as tenured professor -- should dictate whether a search is performed.


Audit urges Education Department to tighten distance education regulations

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The U.S. Education Department must do more to prevent financial aid fraud in distance education, a federal audit says.

First State Approved for Distance Ed Reciprocity

Indiana has become the first state to join a national initiative aimed at making it easier for distance education programs to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals when they enroll students across state lines.

Indiana’s application was approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, one of the four regional higher education interstate compacts that are implementing the state reciprocity initiative, called the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. In order to join, a state has to meet certain minimum standards in how it authorizes programs and provides consumer protections for students. The goal is to streamline the state authorization process for distance providers who face a variety of different state regulations when they want to offer online courses outside the state in which they are headquartered. Marshall A. Hill, NC-SARA's executive director, last year set a goal of 20 member states by the end of 2014.

Beyond the patchwork of state laws governing distance education, the U.S. Education Department is also in the process of rewriting a regulation that would require online programs that want to participate in federal student aid programs to obtain permission from regulators in each and every state in which they enroll students. A previous version of that rule, known as the “state authorization” requirement, was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2012.

Department officials indicated last week, in kicking of the negotiated rulemaking process for the new rule, that they are interested in considering how state reciprocity agreements should be factored into the federal government’s state authorization requirements. 

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Online Platform 2U Plans Public Stock Offering

2U, one of a growing cadre of companies that help colleges take their academic programs online, announced Friday that it had taken steps toward an initial public offering of its stock. 2U has sought to differentiate itself from the other players in this market by focusing on high-prestige universities. Documents filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission provide some insights into the shape and scope of the market of online service providers; Phil Hill of e-Literate offers an analysis here.

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Former nursing students sue Excelsior College over 'deceptive or misleading practices'

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Excelsior College, the world's largest distance educator of nurses, is sued by former students alleging the institution deceived them.

Elite universities face lower stakes but familiar concerns in MOOC space

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MOOCs may be less of an investment for elite institutions, but Cornell, Princeton and Yale Universities still face familiar questions about investments, revenue and intellectual property rights.


British MOOC, first in country to give option of paying for credit, gets no takers

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A British MOOC on vampire fiction is first in the country to offer an option of paying for credit. There were no takers.

U. of the People Wins Accreditation

The University of the People, an unusual online institution in which students pay no tuition and faculty members volunteer, has been accredited, The New York Times reported. Officials at the university have predicted that accreditation could lead to rapid growth. The university was accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council.

The university's founder described his goals in a podcast interview with Inside Higher Ed in 2009.



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