what do you guys think about the USDLA

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Robbie, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. Robbie

    Robbie New Member

    There are many many great schools on board with that organization. Having said that, do you think the certification/accreditation the USDLA offers is okay for a start? I know they have only one school and it is questionable to some. Could this accreditation be a baby step towards say DETC accreditation? Sounds like they do onsite visits and have appropriate staff looking at the programs. Since CA doesn't have a BPPVE anymore, would a 3rd rate certification from the USDLA be better than nothing? I just hate to see some of those nice schools in CA get mixed in the wash with the mills coming in since the oversight has gone.
  2. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Are you talking about the US Distant Learning Association?
    If so I think I must be brain dead tonight (after finishing my first assignment for the fall semester) because I can't figure out exactly what the purpose of USDLA is. They don't seem to accredit schools or courses (at least I could not find a list on their site).
  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    You're not brain dead at all....

    Hi -

    You're not brain-dead - just tired - and we've all been there with DL.

    You're perfectly right - USDLA doesn't accredit. DLAB, which seems to be their subsidiary, DOES accredit - and "accreditation" by them leads to "certification" by USDLA. USDLA membership itself has nothing to do with accreditation - or lack thereof.

    Here's a page on DLAB, from the USDLA site:

    It is NOT on the CHEA list of recognized accreditors... so such a degree would likely have the same limited utility in the US (for employment or further study) as an unaccredited degree.

    In answer to the original question about "baby step to DETC" - no. Nothing to do with DETC. Go ahead - ask them at www.detc.org.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2009
  4. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It's hard for me to take an accreditor seriously when it has only accredited one school. It doesn't help when that one school is Clayton College of Natural Health.

  5. Robbie

    Robbie New Member

    Thanks Bill and Ian. I was just wondering if an unaccredited school that was eventually going to go for accreditation "recognized by the USDoE or CHEA" would benefit from going through a less rigorous "look-see" or quality control oversight. I know the value of "certification" or "accreditation" with the USDLA does not amount to much but at least it is something. I do understand that being a member does not equate to being accredited or certified with the USDLA or DLAB and just because several of the member schools are "recognized accredited" does not have anything to do with the DLAB/USDLA accreditation. I just wonder why so many accredited schools associate with the USDLA through membership and organizations such as Blackboard. Just wondering, that's all. I know, I do a lot of wondering ;-).

    Wasn't DLAB GATE at one time?
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Robbie - Here's a tip. Sometimes less than wonderful accrediting things will list schools as "members" even when these schools do not know that they've been chosen (ill-fated) as members.

    Go to the individual school ansd ask them why they've chosen to be listed on the XYZ accrediting agency website. Often they'll tell you that they know nothing about it. Do you get it?
  7. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Not a recognized accrediting agency
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    When professional organizations enter into accreditation by accrediting schools that do not already have institutional accreditation (like USDLA does) or programs within schools beyond the school's accreditation scope (like PMI did with UMT's Ph.D.), there is unnecessary confusion. They should stick to accrediting programs within schools that are already accredited and not looking to leverage said accreditation in ways in which it was not intended.
  9. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Here's another thread about the USDLA and its very cryptic accreditations/certifications.


    My opinion hasn't really changed, so I'm going to repeat my comments from that thread:

    I'm not sure what the USDLA's function is or what good it really does. Apparently it holds periodic conferences for DL administrators and stuff. Unfortunately, the fact that it seems unconcerned with all the mills that infest its member's list and continues to blithely post that list on its website, tells me that the USDLA is totally out of touch with DL as it's actually experienced by the public.

    The educators seem unaware that whenever a prospective student (or even worse, their employer) logs onto the internet in search of a DL program, the majority of what comes up are mills. In a very real sense, most of distance learning is little more than the newest internet version of wire-fraud. If the USDLA was truly competent and on top of its game, then it would be addressing this most serious of problems and trying to find solutions, not aiding and abetting the perpetrators.

    I'm a little troubled by the fact that they claim to be an accreditor. And unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the list of schools or programs that they've accredited on their website. My guess is that there might not be any.

    Just to add to the confusion, not only do they offer to accredit schools/programs, they also certify them. The two processes don't seem to be the same thing, but there's no clear explanation of how they differ, let alone what either process is telling the interested public about the schools and programs in question.

    I get the impression that certification is a narrow endorsement of DL design and effectiveness and isn't a broad and general endorsement of the certified school's academic credibility. The fact that Clayton College of Natural Health is apparently boasting USDLA certification doesn't fill me with confidence.

    All in all, my personal impression is that the USDLA is clueless and may be doing more harm than good to the cause of distance learning.
  10. Robbie

    Robbie New Member

    Well put gentlemen. You have provided me with a fresh opinion of the USDLA, especially you Bill. It is an excellent point that the USDLA does allow mills to become members and look the other way. I think I will send an email to the president of the USDLA and make these points you have pointed out. All and all, the USDLA is really worthless. Makes me wonder if it is just a money making gig.

    Thanks again.
  11. dlady

    dlady Active Member

    Bumping this thread instead of starting new one. Any new views/opinions about USDLA?
  12. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    three years later, still not a recognized accrediting agency
  13. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    The USDLA is a professional association for institutions that does some nice things. It runs a very good conference in the spring (most recently in St. Louis) that has a scope similar to the University of Wisconsin Extension's Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning (Madison, Wisconsin in August) and soem things in common with Sloan-C's conference. The USDLA publishes a practitioner journal called Distance Learning (edited at Nova Southeastern U.), offers several awards and runs a national distance education week in the fall.

    To be honest, I have not paid much attention to any "accreditation" coming from USDLA, since it would not be recognized by CHEA or US Dept. of Ed. "Certification" might be more useful, but, to be honest, I haven't looked into it.
  14. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The USDLA is a trade organization that represents distance learning providers of all kinds. This certainly includes accredited universities and high schools, but it also includes totally unaccredited organizations like corporations, non-profits, and government agencies.

    For example, the USDLA recently issued awards to Rosetta Stone (a corporation), the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (a non-profit), and NASA (a government agency). None of these organizations have conventional accreditation; in fact, they are not even eligible for conventional accreditation -- for the obvious reason that they are not colleges or universities, and do not issue credits or degrees.

    Since USDLA is open to any DL provider, regardless of accreditation status or even accreditation eligibility, it wouldn't surprise me if questionable unaccredited schools are members. That's the downside to the open-door policy. But there are certainly legitimate unaccredited organizations that provide DL services (e.g. Rosetta Stone, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and NASA), and so maybe there needs to be an organization that will represent them. The RA and NA agencies have no place for DL providers like these.

    I think the main concern with USDLA is their certification program. I would assume that it is different from conventional accreditation, in that DL providers other than colleges or universities would be eligible. However, I question whether there is really a need for this program, and it seems like it could be easily confused with accreditation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2012
  15. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    But note also that many perfectly legitimate accredited DL schools are members of USDLA.
    For example, their last three national conferences have included the following keynote speakers representing well-known accredited DL schools:

    2012: the Chancellor of Western Governor's University (WGU)
    2011: the President of University of Maryland University College (UMUC)
    2010: the President of the University of Massachusetts (UMass)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2012
  16. dlady

    dlady Active Member

    Okay good thanks for some of the thoughts. I take it that, as far as anyone knows; it is a legitimate group and being associated with them, while maybe not a positive, doesn't bring any negative baggage either..
  17. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Nova Southeastern University apparently isn't worried about any baggage, since they have partnered with USDLA to offer a joint "NSU/USDLA Distance Learning Leader Certificate Program".

    Stanford University doesn't seem too concerned either. The Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) seems proud to acknowledge their past USDLA awards. In fact, the current Executive Director of the SCPD also sits on the USDLA Board of Directors.
  18. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Well put, that's my sense of them also.
  19. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member


    It seems well-respected in industry and academia (ending of course at the subject of transfer credits). For schools that are only offering certifications, I can see how the USDLA certification could be useful. I think where it starts to come apart is when an unaccredited school offering degrees would promote it in place of fully recognized institutional accreditation (and you know some will). They're kind of like an unaccredited accreditor :)... interesting.
  20. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Possibly. However, I have yet to find any organization, of any kind, that currently advertises the USDLA "Quality Standards Certification". The program apparently does exist, because USDLA has posted a May 2012 brochure advertising it. But I'm not aware of any organization that actually uses the nifty USDLA/QS logo featured on the brochure.

    Note that there is a difference here between membership and certification (as there is with some accreditors, like AACSB). It appears that pllenty of well-known schools (and other organizations) are members of USDLA. However, there seem to be very few (if any) schools or other organizations that are actually certified by USDLA. The USDLA certification program exists in theory, but does not seem to be very popular in practice.

    Apparently the unaccredited Clayton College of Natural Health (which is now extinct) did exactly that. That probably has a lot to do with the lingering skepticism about USDLA.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2012

Share This Page