Review: Washington Online Learning Institute

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by revelated, Aug 8, 2020.

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  1. revelated

    revelated New Member

    And I will add this information to the Reddit as well, OnlineDegrees101. Because I do think it's important for people to understand from someone that's gone through it.

    Washington Online Learning Institute, or WOLI, is a self-paced, distanced tool essentially that allows you to gain a certificate in one of a few types of courses. A little known fact is that the US Government has engaged WOLI to provide college education for some of their areas.

    I went through the Business Administration certificate course, got the certificate, the whole nine. Pictures below.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]



    The Format/Structure
    If anyone had a chance to explore Patten before they shut down, this was nearly identical. The only difference is there's no need to participate in silly discussion forums or submit papers. Everything is a test, all multiple-choice, no proctor, it's auto-scored by the system. So you truly can go at your own pace.

    It took me just over 6 months to complete all four classes, and that's only because I took the equivalent of a month off AND throttled myself to no more than 2 tests or one Chapter per day (some of them have over 30 tests, some have over 15 Chapters).

    Completion of the program with high marks can make you eligible for nomination to Alpha Beta Kappa, which is a national honor society that is fairly new compared to the other more regional ones. ABK has chapters sponsored by a lot of schools that are accredited, most notably Purdue Global (formerly known as Kaplan) but there are many others out there. ABK requires that the student, once nominated, pay a small fee to join. Others such as Phi Beta Kappa (the most recognized) allow the school to nominate and pays the fee for them.

    [​IMG]



    The Material
    Here's what I found interesting. The tests are actually identical to tests you would find from any major university. One in particular was a Virginia-based college, one was a Florida-based college...large, state regionally accredited deals. Additionally, you get access to a full digital library of materials that are straight out of any college you'd find anywhere else. And I can verify that the tests are the exact same as at least one major college. This isn't unusual; colleges share tests for common classes all the time.

    For the Business Law class you also get access to a tool that lets you search case precedents and hearings. The material is as legit as they come and the tests are not cakewalks.

    Accreditation
    I read a few posts around here where this is a contentious issue, and one of the signatories of the cert (Rod Clarkson) has been represented here defending it. Here's what I can tell you.

    The classes are the EXACT SAME as what you would get at any major university anywhere, and in fact, identical to what you might be able to take through ACE or some other program. The problem, as some have noted, is how the accreditation is/was done.

    I actually went to MSA and verified that WOLI is indeed listed. The issue is the word "postsecondary". So I attempted to take the 20 credits issued here and transfer them to the lowest common denominator - the school that takes almost anything - Charter Oak State College. They flat out refused to even recognize the WOLI credits, because, quote, "while they are accredited, they are accredited as a postsecondary. We don't find that they are ACE-compatible in program, so we can't make an exception." (side note: Charter Oak does make an exception if they have an agreement with that org to accept their credits. So WOLI for example, could reach out to Charter Oak, make a deal, and those credits would be transferrable, which would increase their credibility because then Charter Oak's credits are transferrable already.)

    This means, folks, that WOLI is not regionally OR nationally accredited as far as issuing college credit (which is what matters). They are only regionally accredited to issue high school programs.

    I actually disagree with the assessment, because the material is 100% identical to any other college. Literally the same textbooks, the same tests, everything.

    So what's going on here?

    I have a theory, from having worked in the industry.

    I suspect that WOLI either didn't try for the full certificate accreditation OR were not allowed to do it because of how their "substantial interaction" works. Meaning...none.

    During the entire time I went through the courses, I only ever spoke to a person who claimed to be the director and one other gal in their Billing department (who didn't know what she was doing). No instructors. No teachers. There are videos, but again, they're the same material you'd find elsewhere. In fact, some of them are straight YouTube links. When I ran across a question where it had the same answer twice (clearly an OCR issue), it was the director who fielded the support ticket.

    Second, emails still come to you from "Excel High School" (which is technically the entity). That's fine - some high schools do college prep courses after hours. But it's terribly simple to set up email such that your messaging comes from the correct entity (I set this up myself internally in Microsoft 365. It's dirt simple.)

    It's curious that the government went all-in, but others seem to think that the government cares less about the certifications (think CompTIA) and more about the material and the fact you were exposed to it and passed tests for it at a basic level for common roles.

    It's unfortunate the for-profit private sector doesn't have a similar thought process, but here we are.



    Summary
    I don't regret going through the program. I'm a business owner (which is why I don't care or regret it, because I'm my own boss).

    I suspect there will be a time in the future (especially with the pandemic) that colleges are going to lighten up on what they consider "acceptable" college credits and simply look at the course (not just by name, but by topical material) and the study materials being identical to another school, and start waiving what they would normally restrict.

    Charter Oak, as an example, refused to accept Penn Foster credits even though they had accepted them for many years, but took basically every Microsoft cert I had and applied credit from them against a Business degree; not only knocking off regular classes, but completely knocking out all free elective requirements.

    The only reason I didn't do Charter Oak is that, as a liberal arts school, they wanted a hefty amount of additional liberal arts classes that I was not willing to suffer through.

    But if your goal is to get credits that you can transfer with confidence, WOLI isn't there yet. Stick with Sophia.org (who I couldn't stand), Study.com, etc. even though they don't have everything, they have enough.

    On the side: Rod, if you see this, I specialize in business process improvement. I'm happy to help - because I see a LOT of inefficiencies in your business that hamper what could potentially be a strong, viable alternative. I'm not hard to find - I'm your only BBB complainant, and that complaint is low hanging fruit to fix.
     
  2. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    How much WOLI do we need? We have a 13-page history of the school, dating back to 2006. Rod-from-there has used the forum to advertise his schools, including excel High School, Excel College (now closed) and later WOLI - more recently acquired. And now, along comes someone advertising his business improvement services to Rod.

    WOLI's new thing seems to be marketing single courses or certs that carry credit (they say). As we've discussed - and the OP admits, near the bottom of the post, it's NOT credit acceptable at many RA schools, despite whatever textbooks they use, etc. as mentioned. It won't be accepted at ANY of the Big 3., for instance. They've ALL been asked and said 'no.' I think WOLI may have an articulation agreement (still) with U. Phoenix. Perhaps you could use them there.

    I'm OK with somebody (anybody) helping Rod improve his business - or whatever. But not here at DI. Send him an email. MODERATORS! ....

    https://www.degreeinfo.com/index.php?threads/so-you-think-regional-accreditors-have-high-standards.23582/page-5
    https://www.degreeinfo.com/index.php?threads/review-washington-online-learning-institute.57365/#post-540542
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Holy WOLI!
     
  4. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Sn!tch LOL...
     
  5. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Why don't they get their courses ACE reviewed and get credit recommendations?
    Appears they are not willing to adhere to a recognized standard.
    I think at the minimum they should have their classes designed in a way so they can get ACE credit recommendations.

    Seems like unaccredited vocational certificates.
     
  6. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Shhhh! Don't call me that! :eek: You're stacking hard time with me, here at DI Penitentiary. You know the rules. Someone down the (cell) block could hear - and I might get shanked. :eek: Those showers are a dangerous place. ;)
     
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  7. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Haha! Don't worry, I'll have someone protect you!
     
    JoshD likes this.
  8. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Man, these For Profit prisons are the worst! :(
     
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  9. rodmc

    rodmc Member

    Revelated, CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishment, and thank you for the review. A few things. WOLI has several articulation agreements in place with regionally accredited universities, and we are getting additional agreements in place ongoing. Capella University also accepts WOLI credits. Revelated, we are happy to contact Charter Oaks College regarding your credit transfer, so feel free to email me personally at [email protected] if you need assistance. I can help with credit transfer. Also, we have a large support staff dedicated to student success. In addition, we offer 24x7 online tutoring through TraintheBrain.com to our students. Our new 2021 courses will contain 3-6 writing assignments. Revelated, I want to ensure you understand the services we offer and know that we are here to support you and all of our students. Revelated, your academic coordinator, is Sarah Good. You can call her at the school office or email her anytime for assistance. Ms. Good will be happy to help you with your needs. Washington Online Learning Institute is a regionally accredited post-secondary institution (PE) which is recognized by the US Department of Education and eligible for Title IV, which is why we have articulation agreements with other colleges and universities; and why we are listed with CHEA. I believe Charter Oak needs clarification.


    NEWS: (American Council on Education) ACE just approved 20 of our courses for lower division 3-credit recommendation. More to come on that next week but not on this form. We will make a formal press release regarding the ACE recommendation courses and update our website accordingly.


    Finally, I never intended to "advertise" on this form. We contract a marketing agency that does all of our advertising across multiple mediums, so for what it is worth, that was never my intention. Degreeinfo is a great place to discuss online education, but not a place I would consider advertising.
     
  10. rodmc

    rodmc Member

    WOLI is accredited and we now have ACE recommendation. : )
     
  11. TEKMAN

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    WOLI sounds horrible name, it should change. I see the site structure and accreditation seems to be a gold standard, but the name might affect new student recruitment and graduates. Maybe changing from Washington Online Learning Institute to Washington Institute for Professional, at least it eliminates the term "ONLINE" in the certificate or diploma.
     
  12. Mac Juli

    Mac Juli Well-Known Member

    Hello!

    I don't like the name either. I immediately associated it with cute, wooly sheep. But maybe that's only me. - Regarding the educational offering of the WOLI, I think that $1000 for 15 academic credits is ok, but not a steal either. Guess I will pass.

    Best regards,
    Mac Juli
     
  13. rodmc

    rodmc Member

    Tekman and Mac. We will be changing the name in the future as we become degree-granting and add additional accredition. Changing the name of a post-secondary institution is not the easiest thing in the world, but absolutely doable. Excel purchased WOLI last year. When you acquire a post-secondary institution, you keep the name and mission in tack, or accreditors get nervous. You improve the institution over time, growing the school, adding programs, ensuring outcomes, and gradually making changes that make sense. This keeps accreditors and stakeholders comfortable. I am sure you see my point. We will make press releases in the future.
     
  14. rodmc

    rodmc Member


    Washington Online Learning Institute is licensed by the State of Minnesota Office of Higher Education and recognized by the US Department of Education and CHEA as an accredited post-secondary institution. WOLI is not a high school. See the links for proof at https://www.woli.edu/accreditation-licensing.html , or just call ED and ask. WOLI/Excel Education Systems also has 20 ACE approved courses.

    WOLI has articulation agreements in place with the University of Phoenix (HLC), National American University (HLC), York College (HLC), Thomas University (SACS), Westcliff College (HLC), and other colleges and universities. To my knowledge, outside of AP courses, colleges do not accept high school courses for college credit, so the articulation covers higher education courses offered at WOLI.

    Please understand that MSA-CESS accredit high schools, (PS) career, technical and vocational colleges under the "associate degree" level. Since WOLI issues undergraduate certificates and diplomas but does not issue associate degrees at this time, WOLI cannot apply for accreditation with HLC/MSAHE, etc.

    Excel High School is accredited by Cognia, NCA, SACS, and NWAC for high school programs. The US DOE does not recognize high school accredition, which is why MSA CESS is listed with US DOE and CHEA, and Cognia is not. Cogina is recognized by the State DOE K-12 office. High School is a state matter. Higher Education is a state and federal matter as it relates to licensing and title IV eligibility.

    Penn Foster and many other colleges also have MSA-CESS accreditation for their certificates and diplomas at the post-secondary level. I have been living accredition for over a decade, and I fully understand how K-12 and HE accreditation work. If you do a bit of research, you will find what I say is 100% factually accurate. Finally, MSA used to be one unified organization but split up 2-years ago. This left MSA-CEES to accredit high schools, career and technical colleges (PS) under the associate degree level, and MSAHE to accredit degree-granting institutions.

    I hope this information helps clarify MSA-CESS (PS) accreditation.

    *This is not an advertisement.
     

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