Are colleges and universities that serve adults at a distance, such as online schools, leading the way in measuring real learning outcomes?
Some may be skeptical, but I say yes. And I’ll tell you why.
Recently, a number of these types of institutions have joined together in an effort called Transparency by Design to do just that.
This initiative goes beyond similar efforts by other groups of schools to share reports on outcomes. Transparency by Design will include actual learning outcomes. What do I mean by that? Well, these institutions realize that adults want to know that what they will learn will help them achieve career and professional success. These adults are focused on what they will be able to do and want to know if they can count on the institution to deliver on what it promises. So, these institutions tend to be very learning-outcomes based. And, because they are often online, they generate lots of data on the entire teaching-learning exchange, including data on demonstrations of learning outcomes achievement. In other words, they have data on what students are able to demonstrate about what they learn.
The Transparency by Design institutions plan to report annually, starting in 2009, using data collected in 2008, about how well their students were able to demonstrate the outcomes for each and every program they offer to adult students. To learn more about, or to join, Transparency by Design, please visit The Presidents’ Forum.
To date, the colleges and universities that have joined Transparency by Design are:
American Public University System
Charter Oak State College
Fielding Graduate University
Rio Salado College
Union Institute and University
Western Governors University
And the Transparency by Design institutions are working together to report on the impact that degree completion has on the careers of its graduates. Over time, this type of information will help show whether these degree programs support career and professional success.
The Transparency by Design institutions will also report information that will allow prospective students to understand the institutional context, mission, completion rates, and costs. And, for those institutions that serve undergraduate students, the reports will also include information on core learning (writing, critical thinking, etc.).
Isn’t this the kind of data that adult students expect? Isn’t this the kind of data that is most important to the 85% of students who go to school part-time, work, or are older than their early 20s?
I think so.
I welcome your comments about this important topic.
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Welcome to The Other 85 Percent. So what does "the other 85 percent" refer to? Research has shown that only about 15 percent of higher education students still fit the traditional definition of young adults age 18 to 22 who live on campus and go to school full time. more