Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed has posted a piece about the audit of Western Governors University (WGU) by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). This “high-stakes” audit of the 64,000 student online university is relevant to many other online providers and forms of online learning.
At issue is the role of faculty in competency based education. Joan Mitchell, WGU spokeswoman, says the inquiry began 3 years ago. The inspector general is trying to verify whether or not WGU has compiled with the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to Fain, “The inspector general’s interest in competency-based education so far has centered on federal definitions of what constitutes “distance education” versus correspondence courses.”
Federal rules require “regular and substantive interaction” between faculty and students. If found to be providing correspondence courses, the DOE could levy a fine agains the school. Fain says, “A possible fine of even pennies on the dollar for federal aid that should not have been received could get large, given that Western Governors has 55,000 graduates.”
A negative finding against WGU could also threaten:
- Programs that use adaptive learning technology
- emporium-style math labs.
All of these types of education have been praised by the Obama administration as being “innovative.”
The full story is here:
The Education Department's inspector general is auditing Western Governors U over the faculty role in its competency-based programs. The high-stakes audit is relevant to other colleges and forms of online learning.