ERIC Number: EJ1017378
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Thinking about Accreditation in a Rapidly Changing World
LeBlanc, Paul J.
EDUCAUSE Review, v48 n2 p42-44, 46, 48, 50, 52 Mar-Apr 2013
This article reports on an enormous change under way in higher education. The author notes that online learning has provided a platform for rethinking delivery models, yet much of accreditation is not designed to account for these new approaches. He adds that accreditors now wrestle with all of these various forces across a broad landscape of change and urgency, and have largely come to understand online learning and readily assess it. What is now being seen in higher education is a new wave of innovation that uses online learning, or at least aspects of it, as a starting point. Perhaps most important, this new wave of innovation relies on a disaggregation within higher education, a common phenomenon in mature industries, but one that the higher education industry has remarkably resisted for centuries. The author observes that, in the past, faculty members thought up new courses and programs, developed syllabi, outlined learning objectives, "curated" the necessary content and learning artifacts, walked the proposed courses/programs through necessary approvals (governance), taught the courses/programs, advised students, stepped in when students needed help, administered assessments and graded performance, and periodically revised the course/program. That was the way of the world until online technology, which has disaggregated the model, entered the picture. Today, various players perform various aspects of what was once the exclusive province of faculty. If regional accreditors are unable to rise to the challenge, they may find themselves tethered to incumbent models that are increasingly less relevant to higher education. In other words, the accreditors themselves might be disrupted. The author concludes that now is the time for regional accreditors to re-engineer the paths to accreditation or to at least offer an alternative outcomes-based option for accreditation. In doing so, they not only will be ready for that future, but they can help usher it into reality.
Descriptors: Accreditation (Institutions), Higher Education, Educational Change, Influence of Technology, Educational Innovation, Electronic Learning, Institutional Evaluation, Organizational Change, Evaluation Criteria, Standards
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
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