Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is Online Education For Real? New GAO Study!

David M. Walker (U.S. Comptroller General)Image via Wikipedia
I have always wondered if online education is for real.  Although I am a digital immigrant, I have been a fan of the new technologies.  This blog has dragged me kicking and screaming into the twenty first century.

But my doubts about virtual education continue.  How do I know that people actually attend online classes.  How do I know that a particular student is taking an online quiz himself?  The lawyer in me is trained to be skeptical...

Well I guess the answer is that it depends upon which online school is doing the educating!  A new study has been released by the federal Government Accountability Office.  With all of the gusto of a "sting" operation, the GAO sent students undercover to attend 15 online colleges.  Of the 15, 8 passed with flying colors.  The other 7 colleges showed mixed results.

Here is an excerpt from the summary of the report regarding academic performance:
GAO's students engaged in substandard academic performance by using one or more of the following tactics: failure to attend class, failure to submit assignments, submission of objectively incorrect assignments, submission of unresponsive assignments, and plagiarism. At 6 colleges, instructors acted in a manner consistent with school policies in this area, and in some cases attempted to contact students to provide help outside of class. One or more instructors at 2 colleges repeatedly noted that the students were submitting plagiarized work, but no action was taken to remove the student. One or more instructors at the 4 remaining colleges did not adhere to grading standards. For example, one student submitted photos of celebrities and political figures in lieu of essay question responses but still earned a passing grade.

You can read the GAO report summary here

You can read the entire GAO study here.

As always, choose your school wisely!

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  1. Fear not, online programs are real and they are offered by many big name, fully accredited, and well known schools.

  2. Thanks DL,

    After the GAO report, accreditation may not be enough!