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Cutting the Red Tape for Online Education


Some states are friendlier to online education than others when it comes to credentialing and other regulations. This can be a problem for the more than 7 million students who are enrolled in online classes. Fortunately, there are proposals to mend this patchwork system. The New York Times reports on one of those proposals:

A commission on online learning led by former Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley outlined a proposal on Thursday under which any institution that had received state authorization for its online programs, based on certain quality and consumer protection standards, would be allowed to enroll students from other states that met the same basic standards and agreed to reciprocity.

Under the current regulatory scheme, which was designed for courses taught in brick-and-mortar classrooms, colleges and universities generally must register their programs in every state where they are offered.

We hope the Riley Commission’s proposal or something like it has legs. There needs to be some protections to keep students from getting swindled, of course, but these protections shouldn’t be an exercise in turf protection by established higher ed interests. The goal is not to serve the interests of existing institutions, but those of students, who need higher ed to be more affordable and convenient.

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