Thoughts from reading the oldest threads on DI

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Dustin, Jan 10, 2022.

  1. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I've been reading the posts (from 20+ years ago!) from all the way back. A few things have stood out to me:
    • A large number of schools have come into existence, been briefly discussed here and then flamed out
    • We had a lot more threads on "time bombs" (people whose falsified or mill credentials have led to exposure/humiliation/job loss)
    • The time bomb people have mostly landed on their feet - many eventually earning legitimate credentials after
    • The same discussions on the advantages/pitfalls of NA vs RA have been going on since the 2000s (and probably earlier)
    • It's pretty cool to see people be active on this forum over all of those years
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Some of us were at it long before this board was created.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  3. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Of course! I was too young to be on AED (although I used other newsgroups in the late 90s), but I'm glad DI came to the web since newsgroups faded out.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  4. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    Care to share any interesting highlights? Like, any posts about how XYZ thing is sooooooooo revolutionary, but in hindsight it was the worst thing ever. :D
  5. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    The discussions on Usenet usually fell into one of three categories.
    1. Someone asking if a degree from some degree mill is worth anything.
    2. Discussions about the very few serious schools offering degrees via distant learning.
    3. Discussions about the few degree mills that put up a façade about requiring work for their degrees.

    Most of the discussions feel into the third category I'd say. Folks coming in with a Kennedy Western University degree or something similar. Arguing that they were valid degrees.

    The educated experts like Steve Levicoff, Rich Douglas and John Bear I don't think were ever fooled into thinking "how XYZ thing is sooooooooo revolutionary, but in hindsight it was the worst thing ever".
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  6. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    One of the interesting things was that in the early 2000s it was completely appropriate to talk about unaccredited schools. The discussion was about picking a good unaccredited school. Then slowly into the mid-2000s you started to see enough NA/RA options that unaccredited schools started being dismissed wholesale and then it was NA vs RA.

    Also, correspondence/mail seems to be the most popular delivery format for distance courses at least until the mid-2000s, and yet in 2003 video conferences were being done for dissertation defenses at NCU and TUI. Using what, RealPlayer?(!)
    Rachel83az likes this.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Levicoff wasn't educated in this field. Neither was Bear. But they both acquired a strong expertise in it over the years. (Bear first and foremost.)

    IMHO, there have been two things that have changed in the collective estimation of the group from then until now: Unaccredited-but-legitimate schools and the rise of DEAC as a force in accrediting distance learning schools. Both have the same root: the intransigence of the RAs to accredit nontraditional schools.

    Back in the 1970s through mid-80s, one could make a real argument why attending some unaccredited schools might be a good idea for some people in some situations. Nontraditional programs--particularly DL--were rare at the graduate level. When I first applied to Union, there were 5 accredited short-residency options to earn a doctorate in broadly popular fields like business or education. (There were a few niche schools as well.) One could make a serious argument about a DL doctorate from a California-approved school, for example. And no one knew where things were going to go, but they looked promising--as long as the RAs could be bypassed. (The internet eventually blew that up and the RAs simply had to get on board, so they did.)

    In 1980, DEAC (still the NHSC) accredited exactly two schools awarding the bachelor's. (Plus a handful offering non-academic associate's degrees and a boatload of non-degree-granting operations.) By the end of that decade, the newly-monikered DETC was accredited schools awarding degrees through the masters. This created a huge debate in our community about the utility of these degrees for employment and for pursuing even higher degrees. The facts involved were settled quickly and openly through two studies--mine and John Bear's (on which I performed quantitative analyses). The only thing left was the shouting, and that was caused by students and graduates of DETC-accredited schools being angry at those of us who said those degrees, in general, were less utile than those from RA schools. (It didn't help that one in our midst--a particularly loud and angry voice--want to label them all "degree mills" and trashed anyone who said anything otherwise.) It's a safe bet that the fundamentals are the same to this date, but to what extent is anyone's guess. Neither of our studies have been replicated or updated to our knowledge.

    If I could squeeze in a third, it would be the whole foreign education debate. There was a time when we knew what collegiate registrars (and many employers--but not enough) did. They strived to determine if a degree was issued from a school comparable to an accredited one in the U.S. This was done by looking at one of several authoritative reference books to see if/how the school was listed in its home country's entry. But we didn't anticipate bold-faced rental of the degree-granting authority of a school to operators who would, in turn, run programs scarcely connected to the issuing school. This is what we saw with Empresarial University and, briefly, the Monterrey Institute for Graduate Studies, or MIGS. (I was involved with trying get MIGS off the ground and later with killing it through state authorities in Florida where the US operation was located.) Both Empresarial and the CEU (connected to MIGS) were listed in the International Handbook of Universities--one of the authoritative reference books I was talking about above. MIGS was even specifically called out as part of the CEU. But it turned out to be not much of a connection, nor much of an effort to create the infrastructure necessary to operate graduate programs away from the home campus.

    A lot has changed. There is a lot more information available now. And many more methods and means to distribute misinformation. But the fundamentals are largely the same, with the exceptions I've tried to discuss here. There might be others, but these are the ones that come to my mind off-hand.
  8. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I enjoyed the "loud and angry voice" that labeled them as degree mills versus diploma mills. I thought it served as a case in point for the caution that the utility may not be as great. The Usenet was even less civilized as the Internet after all. :p:D

    Regarding utility, people have gotten utility out of straight up diploma mills. Heck I know of one academic fraud that got utility out of just the bogus claim of a degree when that fell apart then some utility out of the claim of having a diploma from a diploma mill that he probably never even bothered purchasing. :):D The point being that while utility is a most important characteristic for a degree there are other characteristics that have been debated.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I didn't care for the cruelty and imperviousness to countervailing facts. It was sick.
    Bill Huffman likes this.
  10. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Then there were Uncle Junco and Greg D and many others.
    I remember AED, its when I first started getting info on DL, Alt Education etc outside the journals.
    I'm one of those who purchased almost every Bear Guide over the years.
    First one I got was in 1992 - 1993 I think.
  11. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Rich Douglas and Dustin like this.
  12. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    This is a good example of the NA doctorate as "icing on the cake." The minimum requirement is a Master's so the PhD being from an NA school is not a deterrent. Similar to many employment situations, although obviously not common inside academia.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    1980 (6th edition) for me.
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Color me skeptical on this one. A far simpler explanation is that the person who wrote that didn't know what he/she was talking about. This is especially so because the language--the distinction--is passé. (Not operationally, however, which makes me even more skeptical.)

    Dustin might be right that they don't really care about the doctorate. Okay, then why put it in there? It's obviously a selection factor.

    Finally, does anyone know of an institutionally accredited school that isn't RA and offers a doctorate in sociology? This point might be moot.

    I'd call them, but I suspect the person/people who listed this simply don't know the implications of their statement and I'd learn nothing further from the call. But perhaps someone else with more skills could get a clarification.
    Bill Huffman, Dustin and chrisjm18 like this.
  15. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Ahh, good point. If there are no NA doctorates in Sociology (and I don't think there are), it sounds inclusive but is actually just the same old, same old.
  16. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    There were discussions on a hot topic with huge interest in fast or accelerated way to earn degree.
    Bachelor degree in 4 weeks :). Testing out, GRE's, CLEP's etc etc.
    The big 4 always in the mix.
    Its still a popular area of discussion and has its own dedicated forum on DI.
  17. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    What was the fourth? Athabasca?
  18. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Actually it was big 3 and some other competing for the # 4.
    . (SUNY - Regents College- Excelsior) (TESC - TESU), COSC are the big 3.
    But at times schools like Capella, WGU, Athabasca, UoP, and similar were optional # 4

    Today in the US we have schools with generous credit transfer policies.
    Limited list here:
    Southern New Hampshire University
    Purdue University Global
    Strayer University
    Grand Canyon University
    University of Phoenix
    Ashford University
    Walden University
    Excelsior College
    Thomas Edison State University
    Charter Oak State College
    Western Governors University
    Bellevue University

    Over 3,000 traditional colleges and universities accept transfer credits earned via credit-by-exam.
  19. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Agreed. My experience, in engineering not in academia, is that there is a large chasm of knowledge between HR and the hiring manager. Meaning HR rarely has a good understanding of what the manager is looking for. I assume someone from HR wrote that description.

    I would hope this problem would be less in academia though?
  20. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Bill its political, managers just shifting the blame on HR :)

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