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Education’s ‘connected age’ demands major policy changes

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Washington, D.C. — The world in which education operates is changing dramatically and accreditors will need to consider policy changes too, Diana Oblinger, president and CEO of Educause, said Jan. 29 at the 2014 Annual Council for Higher Education Accreditation Conference.

education-policy-change“We’re no longer in the information age, but the connected age,” Oblinger said. “Anything and everything is online. What are we doing to prepare students to live in this world?”

She didn’t have the answer – and maybe nobody does quite yet – but she said it’s important to at least ask these types of questions.

Is information literacy now a fundamental part of what institutions should teach? How do educators integrate high-quality online resources into their traditional courses? Who should be in charge of digital engagement on a college campus: IT or faculty?

“A flight simulator is a completely different experience than reading a flight manual,” Oblinger said. “When the model is different, and the experience is different, how do we know what quality looks like?”

While there weren’t many representatives from aviation schools in the crowd, her example was understood.

The conference was a gathering of people concerned with accreditation, and the explosion of online courses and educational resources in recent years has forced accrediting bodies to think about how to appropriately grant credit to more technologically innovative institutions.

The methods used to measure quality assurance at traditional universities may not accurately gauge the quality of massive open online courses (MOOCs) or fully online colleges.

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