Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Bond, Mar 31, 2002.

  1. Bond

    Bond member

    I have been reading DegreeInfo for a while and have a suggestion that would greatly improve its value to me and, hopefully, others.

    There are different opinions regarding DL which seem to result in either harsh discourse and/or the "unaccepted" opinions being eliminated from DegreeInfo.

    In my situation, the reputation of the school/program is equal, if not more important than, accreditation. I am only interested in very traditional academic programs but cannot attend university full-time and therefore have a keen interest in DL alternatives. My home-base is the United States but my scope is international, therefore I have a keen interest in the academic standards, practices and opportunities in various nations. I am interested in hearing what others' opinions are of various programs/ schools, regardless of whether they have "proof" as long as the opinion is given in good faith. I would love to have a forum where people of like-interest could share knowledge, opinions and thoughts.

    Similarly, it appears that others have interest in non-RA programs.

    I think it would be beneficial to have 3 forums:

    1) Traditional and Non-US DL Education:
    This forum would only discuss programs from from major American and Foreign B&M Universities offered via distance learning. Obviously there is some room for interpretation but I think most would understand the types of programs and schools that qualify. If not, the moderators could use some discretion and guide discussion to the appropriate alternative forum.

    2) RA Non-Traditional and Degree Completion
    This forum would discuss what is most often discussed on DegreeInfo. RA portfolio opportunities, exellerated degrees, non-traditional degrees, virtual universities, degree completion.

    3) Non-RA Opportunities
    Programs from degree-mills, DETC, AABC, state-approved, TRACS, etc.

    I think that, generally, individuals have a stronger interest in one of these types of DL opportunities more than the others... so this would bring together like-minded individuals and eliminate "noise". However, one could obviously participate in more than one forum.

    I think this would do much to alleviate conflict and provide more focused discussion for like-minded individuals to learn about their part of the DL universe.
  2. cdhale

    cdhale Member

    I agree. While I do enjoy (?) reading most of the posts here, it would make things easier for me to have different areas to visit, for each of the aforementioned topics.
    Though it is interesting to read of all the various US schools, most of them are pretty much out of my price range (at least in the areas that are of interest to me). Of course, this is made more so because we are moving to Europe this summer to do mission work.
    I am very interested in the South African possibilities, but the times that they come up in discussion are soon lost down the list. I suppose that it is mainly because of one of the very problems you present.
    Thanks for your suggestions.
  3. Peter French

    Peter French member

    1. This is, has been as its predecessor, and always will be, essentially a US group. 'Other world' opportunities are usually only discussed for the benefit of those with the RA problem, and that is US students. I have NO problem with this. The rest of us don't have these problems.

    2. To set up a 'degree-mill' site would be to give fraudulent/misleading institutions a place they do't deserve. It would also risk becoming a site for 'undesirables. I have EVERY problem with this suggestion.

    These are my personal opinions ... however just remember who I am and where I come from :D
  4. Bond

    Bond member


    Just to correct,

    I did not mean to suggest that we should have a forum to promote degree-mills. However, there is much discussion regarding mills (where they are, when they change their names, the people who start them, etc.)... this should be in the 3rd forum.

    As I stated. I am in the US but my scope is beyond the US (in fact, I was speaking to a chap in Sydney last week). I know I am not alone. Although I would probably defer to a US program... I would definetly consider all opportunities and simply find the process of learning more about foreign processes interesting.

    Again. This does not preclude a Ameri-centric forum (say forum two) but the first forum would be "safe" for discussion of programs from major foreign universities.
  5. Chip

    Chip Administrator


    We're definitely considering adding some additional forums, so we'll consider the suggestions made.

    I can say with near 100% certainty that you'll never see a "opportunities at degree mills" forum on DegreeInfo, though you might see a "Latest dirt on less-than-wonderful schools" or some such.

    Also, with regard to the US-centric nature of the board, please be assured that this is in no way a *desire* of any of the DegreeInfo moderators or admin team; it simply reflects a lack of background and experience among most of us on non-US programs.

    It's definitely our hope that over time, we'll have more contributions to the forum from those in Europe, Asia, "down under" and the rest of the world... and adding a section on international programs might be an excellent way of cultivating that audience.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  6. I'd like to see the following additional forums:
    • Degree completion/testing out/credit for prior learning/TESC, COSC, Excelsior. (I would ignore this forum completely.)
    • Discussions of accreditation - principles, processes, and value. Also general discussion of quality assurance in higher education.
    • Discussions of DL philosophies, practices, technology, resources (libraries etc.).
    • My X is bigger than your X - e.g. the persistent U.K. vs U.S. flame war.
    • Time bombs, outing, etc. (I would try to ignore this forum also.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2002
  7. Nicole-HUX

    Nicole-HUX New Member

    I only agree with the notion of dividing the information we post into additional, topic specific forums in principle. For me in particular, my interests are too eclectic to let someone else decide where I should look for something. My favorite category in searching for books or music is always "miscellaneous" because I always manage to run across something I would have forgotten to look for if I took a more narrow approach.

    As always, however, I encourage you to do what's best for the forum and its users as a whole.
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Chip personally I am satisfied with the way things are. I think the general forum allows visitors to stumble across options they would not normally have considered.

    However, were you to start a new forum, rather than lump ATS, TRACS, & AABS in with unaccredited options (which is certainly not a good field to share since these are accredited options), why not start a forum for theological discussions. That could then include, TRACS, ATS, AABC, & foreign DL options.


  9. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I oppose Bond's suggestion.

    First of all, his forums would simply institutionalize some very debatable 'Kenian' categories. He divides American DL into high "reputation" "traditional" programs on one hand, and "non-traditional", "virtual" and "degree completion" on the other. I find that distinction to possess little or no merit, because all DL programs employ non-traditional methodologies *by definition*. If you don't want a non-traditional approach to education, you should attend a university full-time on-campus and shouldn't be pursuing DL in the first place.

    Then Bond makes the further suggestion, familiar to all of us, that non-US programs be equated with the "high reputation" "traditional" American programs and that the "non-traditional", "virtual" programs (presumably meaning TESC and the like) be excluded from discussion on the exalted higher forum. I guess that Heriot-Watt, also very non-traditional in that it doesn't require a bachelors for admission and is examination-based and not taught, makes the "traditional" cut simply because it is not American.

    Finally, DETC, TRACS and all the rest of the non-RA options, ranging from those accredited by US Department of Education recognized accreditors to full-frontal degree mills are banished to a single garbage forum. Some pretty dramatic and extremely controversial value judgements are included in that one.

    My opinion is that while we can and probably should discuss all of these issues, the moderators of Degreeinfo should not simply impose a DL vision and philosophy on the rest of us by fiat.

    Personally, I am far more interested in distinguishing programs by subject matter than by differentiating them by somebody else's definition of what is "traditional" or by nationality. If a school doesn't offer a program in my field then it is of little interest to me, even if it is Oxford. But if a TRACS or even a CA-approved school does, then I will feel free in mentioning it, no matter what the forum. And I will continue on obstanately in considering that it just might be the better choice (at least for some of us).

    The point is that not only are the value judgements implicit in the forum definitions questionable, but that many students' interests and needs cut across that agenda at 90 degrees.

    The bottom line is that we already have this thing called "threads". If anyone wants to discuss a particular school or kind of school, they are already free to start a thread on it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2002
  10. Craig Hargis

    Craig Hargis Member

    I don't really see that any "opinions" are driven out, or that non RA programs are not given fair shrift. What you do hear on this board is simply fact: most unaccredited schools leave something important to be desired. Many are outright diploma mills. All non-RA degrees will have less utility than their RA counterpart. Even so, many of us have credentials from a carefully selected (with eyes open as to its meaning and probably more limited portability) non RA school, but at the same time most people on this board seem to have at least RA masters. I have heard several people claim the talk around here is too harsh. With the possible exception of Steve L., I just don't see it that way. I like the setup the way it is. The discussions do not need to be endlessly divided.

    Blessings in this Easter season.

  11. Bond

    Bond member

    Mr Dayson,

    I beleive you completely missed my point (perhaps I did not express it clearly enough).

    As I reviewed the various threads, I noticed a couple of things.

    First, there are three fairly distinct constituencies on DegreeInfo.
    -Those who are interested in and would consider programs without RA.
    -Those who are interested in and would consider programs from non-traditional RA institutions
    -Those who are interested in and would consider programs only from traditional, major b&m universities.

    Second, unproductive conflict generally arises when these constituencies interact on the same threads. I have, unfortunately, seen opinions driven out when the most active contributors agree on a specific issue. This segregation would allow some contrarian views to be openly expressed without being "gang tackled".

    I am sure there are those who would like to discuss state-approved degrees without getting attacked by a gang of vocal contributions who tell them how bad their degrees are.

    Similarly, as I have stated, I can only consider degrees from major b&m schools. This is not a "dig" on anyone else, it merely reflects my situation and, I beleive, the situation of others that I would like to discuss issues with without getting attacked by proponents of other schools (again, nothing wrong with these schools... not my interest).

    This segregation reflects the interests of contributors and not the measure of quality you suggest.

    If I may point a few things in your response:

    -The categorites may be debateable to you but are clearly not debateable to many others who clearly gravitate to these different schools. Again, in my situation, a traditional DL degree from a major b&m school (hopefully ranking well in US News) is a viable option...others are not... I believe there are others who are in a similar situation.

    -Your response somewhat illustrates my point:
    Your tone is clearly derogatory to individuals like myself and those who feel they do not require RA and I assume Heriot-Watt University. I did not infer that one forum should be "exalted" and another "garbage" only that these forums clearly reflect interests and would result in less unproductive conflict.

    As far as these issues being open for discussion. I have read some of these "discussions" and they are generally not very productive. They are generally "mine is bigger than yours" with a dash of patriotism and thoroughly mixed with high-school debating tactics.

    Yes there are threads but there is already a forum for a single school (MIGS), presumable to bring together individuals with a mutual interest. Certainly, considering the unproductive argument concerning non-RA schools, major b&m universities and foreign schools, some segregation would productive, wise and profitable to bring together individuals with interests in these types of academic institutions.
  12. David Appleyard

    David Appleyard New Member


    Yes, it is true that some of us have been “gang tackled” for our opinions and views regarding distance learning. I have personally been tar and feathered for my position on regional accreditation, however, I do not believe for one second that there’s an ounce of malice in any of the responses. We all have different needs and reasons for persuing a degree (i.e., chocolate vs. vanilla).

    To segregate opinions into specific categories: one forum for unaccredited, another for state-approved, a third for DOE approved and a fourth for RA, would not serve the intended use of the forum. An individual looking for one type of school or program would simply go to that specific forum and have his or her opinion reinforced by like and kind views.

    The “open forum” that we have currently, allows multiple views on any given subject, be it domestic or foreign, RA or non-RA, etcetera. The visitor or member may then read the variety of positions about that subject and hopefully make an informed decision about what options are available.

    While things do get heated at times, I’ll take the heat versus the alternative, no interaction.
  13. Howard

    Howard New Member

    I think we must also consider that some of the readers of the forum may not know/understand the difference between state approved, RA, non-RA, DOE, etc. To divide the forum into these catagories would only serve to confuse such readers. By keeping the forum intact the readers can understand the relative difference between the schools.

    Most of the posters have opinions----some based upon facts---others based upon emotion, but, for the most part I believe the board as it is best serves the needs of those who participate.

  14. Bond

    Bond member

    "Shortly after I enrolled in a masters program with the University of Phoenix, I discovered and found an interesting thread about the UoP. I was horrified at what I read because so many people lambasted the UoP. It scared me and embarrassed me that I was enrolled at the UoP.

    My enrollment at the UoP corroborated what many others had said about the school: You are essentially buying your degree. All you have to do is log-on and you’ll get your “A” in your course.

    While several factors caused me to drop the UoP program, the thread at played a very large factor in my decision."

    from how DegreeInfo helped me.

    This is the issue. In the threads I read on UoP it seemed that such criticisms were at risk of being drown out by those who do not allow discussion of RA universities. I think it has occured in discussion other schools also. It would be a shame if people were directed to schools that were not suitable for them because of a vocal minority.

    Incidently, Chip:
    I think this is a great testimonial of someone using DegreeInfo to stay away from a questionable school... it should be linked to the front page!!!
  15. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    UoP has a long list of detractors and a few defenders. I don't think that the prevailing view here is that RA schools are always wonderful, only that they do, in fact, meet a minimum standard which is generally an *enforced* standard. In turn, then, the only meaningful way of ensuring a baseline level of quality in US schools is through RA.

    DETC has already shown, with Harcourt, AICS, Columbia Southern and others that it is unwilliing or unable to enforce its own standards, and I think that just about everyone knows what a joke California is. So those aren't effective means of providing meaningful baselines with the same rigor as RA.

    Of course, to be fair, North Central hasn't, as far as I know, taken any action against UoP, but if the percentage of complaints found here are even close to an accurate sampling, I'm sure they will eventually be moved to do something.

    While I'm a strong advocate of RA, I've also said many times that it's far from perfect. There's obviously a huge gulf between the rigor of a course at Harvard or Brown, and the same course taught at some backwater community college in a state where the quality of high school education isn't the best. But until somebody comes up with a really meaningful and effective alternative (and ISO 9000 isn't it), RA is the best that we have at the moment.

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