Non-Profit "School" Idea

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by thomaskolter, Jul 31, 2006.


Is a free online community of learning a good idea?

Poll closed Aug 30, 2006.
  1. Yes

    9 vote(s)
  2. No

    10 vote(s)
  1. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    I was thinking of starting an on-line program that uses free course resources on-line and mentoring study assignments and tests to offer certificates and diplomas.

    Sort of a CO-OP program where people could take various options to learn skills and study different things with a peer review for STUDY CONTRACTS for various levels of education.

    Just an idea to bounce around for fun but meaningful study that anyone could do for personal interest and/or real education in topics of interest.

    Now to be clear it would be virtually free maybe a fee for a printed certificate and a web space to maintain records, require work and that must be directed into a topical area of study, would not be accredited and be clear about that and provide a different way to learn. And would clearly offer various levels of non-degree credentials only. If this could be FREE it would be ideal and am looking at ways to do that.

    I think to do this it must be a non-diploma mill, even if inexpensive it should be an asset to those doing the various options for a benefit credential.

    Just to talk about it first off how would you best do this to be a real asset and what types of certificates and diplomas could be offered?

    Any ideas for a name that would not sound stupid or like a mill? I was thinking Socratic Independant Options (SIO) Socratic for respect for the great thinker and founder of the philosophic method, independant as its well independant and options because it offers several options.

    Right now lets consider this a thought experiment on what such a program could be like...the ideal non-degree mill using free resources and the goodwill of fellow members.
  2. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    The other shoe finally drops.
  3. RobbCD

    RobbCD New Member

    I'm not sure if spelling "independent" correctly would make it sound any less like a mill! LOL

    A rose by any other name.........:D :D :D
  4. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    But it would not be a school really a co-op of learning with a central base to keep records of each members efforts. This could also be accredited courses or degrees- CEU courses or doing a personal study with papers approved by other members with a suitable level of education.

    I would propose no degrees be issued rather some other approach simliar to the PATHWAYS program for philosophy.

    Why? First it dates back to the earliest forms of education no schools or complex programs just one person honing their minds and approved by peers. Second for those not wanting to do more than enjoy a course of study for personal enrichment or yes a credential of sorts its a low cost option. Third since the program would stick to some form of title not related to a degree for credentials its not a "degree mill".

    It would be my intend the whole thing be free- a community of guided learning offering a virtual education to anyone that seeks it using the good will of other members. A pure and virtual academy to take on the "mills". An unaccredited program that offers freedom of choice, support members not all seeking a formal college degree in their advancement and to set up semi-formal programs of study for those with career goals.

    Nothing sinister just use the internet to finally bring to members a chance for a free and meaningful education. Regardless of status or income- a true school unfettered as it were.

    Now is that a mill or likely the greatest experiment of learning since the internet was founded?
  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Was there ever a finer example of "false dichotomy"? But seriously, sure, go for it. It doesn't interest me, but that doesn't mean there's not a critical mass of support out there for informal cooperative online learning. Maybe you can register a .coop domain name for it and everything.

  6. RobbCD

    RobbCD New Member

    That's a mill.
  7. Dave C.

    Dave C. New Member

    You're a misguided fool.

    Go rescue a kitten, pick your nose or do something worthwhile with your time.
  8. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    "Socratic Consortium" Concept

    Actually I had a major shift in idea this should not be a school but a clearinghouse for persons to do Independant Study Projects, Learning Contract Projects and Academic Papers to catalog them in web sites under a review of peer members. Then one should take these to another institution or not for a certificate, diploma or degree and that could be unaccredited or not.

    Similar to a Credit Bank for alternative methods of learning, it may be a school and offer a core Great Book study for a Fellowship or something similar- but the issuing of a credential should be up to the choice of the member.

    This way its not in any sense a school as would be seen by any state but could be a tool to get a degree- in my view that could be any institution.

    Although I might see a value to affiliation with a variety of accrediting and schools for the latter purpose. And this organization would offer free education or arranged privately for the individual projects.

    Now THAT is not a mill any more than the PATHWAYS to Philosophy is a mill. But if they want to take their portfolio for the SC and take it to lets say a school like the defunct and for example purposes Hamilton University (Wyoming) they could. That is none of the business of the member.

    See a MILL= Offers a Degree

    This proposal offers NO credentials of its own save a Fellowship a minimal thing for reading Great Books and having that verified by a proctor they were read so on its own is NOT a Mill.

    Not that I mind people taking their educational proofs and getting a degree from one if they choose to.
  9. morleyl

    morleyl New Member

    If you need a cheap way to complete your degree, here is one of the cheapest available accredited schools. Its B&M and DETC accredited school.

    In respect to setting up online school, it's probably not going to do much without some recognized accreditation unless you are offering something unique. look on it from a marketing perspective.

    You could always build a website to offer references for existing resources, exams etc... For example you could map a MIT OCW course to a CLEP exam etc..

    Other option would be a certification type institute but then you need to attract qualified staff to get any form of respect.
  10. thomaskolter

    thomaskolter New Member

    Well my plans were to base it around a concept I call a READING CONTRACT where a student would take a certain number of books from a standard Great Works list, read them that being verified by a proctor. After completing a certain number of volumes from lets say at least 10 different scholars/writers such as Plato you could apply for a degree from another institution. It would have a title added next to the degree approved by (insert intitials) that could be any source I arrange for the "piece of paper" with. .Example would be a BA Philosophy (approved by CoIS) issued by a third party school. The reading list on a web location as verification of topics studied.

    For the general reading contract there would be a number of required works and then the above the ELECTIVE program the concentration approved by a proctor.

    A Masters and Doctorate would follow a similar course but with a written paper to be posted on the internet for peer review and debate.

    My plans are not to OFFER a degree but rather be an avenue to get the "piece of paper" if you want one- the program would have no interest in where that is. I have had some interest from Clayton University- Hong Kong and some other schools to be the degree issuer. I want to keep that open to many options.

    But there will be no staff just members reviewing the work (reading list) and progress of other members I leave the degree granting and the like to other sources.

    At most the program might grant some non-degree title for completing some of the work or publishing papers on-line. I was thinking of Associate and Fellow as good ones plus Regent. Or for those not wanting to spend money on the degree to place as a credential.

    Business and other topics would be concentrations that one could get with practical reading and applied to a given area of study- like someone interested in Business Management could read textbooks on the subject or have a mentor teach them accounting operations.

    The goal is THIS PROGRAM would be free and on its own not a school- but a consortium of self-learners.

    As far as I know this is a unique idea.

    For a name I was thinking the Consortium of Independent Study (CoIS) has a nice ring to it. I wish to avoid being labeled a college or university doing this and at a philosophical level think the "piece of sheepskin" is secondary to being well read in scholarly areas. What matters is the quality of what you read to put into your mind- for that I plan to offer only Great Works the same lists of books St. Johns and other programs use as the core subject matter. Who can deny Plato or Aquinas or Tolstoy are great minds- worthy of reading to better your education?
  11. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Now, why should I want to go to your non-degree place when I could get a few degrees for reading the Great Books by going to St. John's or Harrison Middleton?
  12. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Your intend or your intention? By the way, if the thing's free, where will you get the money to support the expenses of the thing? And, by the way, most people will tend to think something's worth what they paid for it.
  13. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Re: "Socratic Consortium" Concept

    Not sure who is the more dishonest: the man who gives degrees to others in exchange for no work or the man who gives others no degrees in exchange for a lot of work.
  14. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Have you thought about why any accredited college or university would want to accept transfer credits from your little unaccredited consortium?
  15. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Thomas: You've fallen into the typical trap that most entrepreneurs fall into ... you've fallen in love with your product because it is your baby and you cannot see it as your prospective customers will see it. Granted, you have finally answered why it is different from the alternatives, but you have not answered why it is better than the alternatives. You still need to answer why anyone would want to go to your school and the answer has to be something other than because I like thomaskolter. Peace!
  16. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    There are a lot of reasons why this sort of thing would be difficult. It would take money to support the web presence, you'd face difficulty getting real universities to accept it, etc.

    However, there are ways of addressing those objections. You could base it off a Moodle implementation, which would be inexpensive. You could design it to be most useful for support of prior learning assessment portfolios, rather than any direct form of credit transfer, since the latter isn't going to happen.

    The hardest parts will be attracting qualified tutors (what's in it for them?), and promoting the existence of the site.

    By the way, I think of a "consortium" as a league of academic organizations. If this is really a non-profit setup designed to help individuals interact, then in my opinion, "cooperative" is a better description. If you agree, then you could simply call it The Socratic Cooperative and put it at

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2006

Share This Page