You may have heard of the Department of Education Inspector General’s (IG) report on Western Governor’s University (WGU). You can read about it here.
Basically, the IG recommended that WGU repay the Department of Education all Title IV (Financial Aid) funds they have received of the past few years, to the tune of about $712 Million. The main reason – lack of “regular and substantive interaction between students and faculty members.” In essence, the IG said a number of WGU’s online Competency Based Education courses are “correspondence courses” and not eligible for Financial Aid.
The “good news” is that the Department of Education is not bound by the IGs recommendation. Several blog posts and articles by experts in online education (WGET, e-Literate, Inside Higher-Ed) offer various views of the report. Most indicate WGU will prevail and not lose funding. But they also indicate we, as higher education, need to do better with interactions for our online courses.
As a district we need to ensure all of our courses – grounded, hybrid, and online alike – are not correspondence courses and have regular and substantive interaction. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially online, but it’s something we need to ensure is happening.
The ideas presented in the session can help, but it still requires we not only include the opportunities, but take charge and ensure we communicate with our students. Here are some ideas to help get us started:
Weekly announcements (audio, video, written – don’t forget captions)
Substantive feedback for assessments – even if you use a rubric you can add some individualized comments
Discussions – weekly discussion posts on topical items. Include a “Muddiest Point” forum where students can ask questions. Encourage everyone to help out.
What else can we do? Feel free to add a comment.