Badges, credit, and accreditation in online education

Solomon’s story (K. Solomon, personal communication, September 23, 2013) demonstrates the many factors that must be balanced during the accreditation process. As we see, a turn to competencies by postsecondary institutions can result in a disruption to financial aid, and badges have the potential to amplify this effect.

But the door is not at all closed.

“Institutions regularly bundle courses from existing degree programs into certificates and Commission approval is not required. If an institution wants to offer a certificate developed independent of existing degree programs (and for it to be Title IV eligible), the institution is required to complete a brief online application and we would review the request,” says Solomon, adding, “Our intent is not to build a new system just for badges but to wrap them into existing policies as appropriate. We know that many institutions recognize learning through PLA (prior learning assessment) or transfer of credit but we do not approve the actual decisions for individual courses. Each institution is expected to have policies and processes to evaluate the quality of credits it transcripts, and we review how the institution follows its own processes. The same expectations would be in place if an institution were to award badges based on credits or competencies.”

Anne DerryBerry is producer, designer, reviewer/evaluator, market analyst, next-generation Learning and Productivity Solutions, Sage Road Solutions, LLC. This blog post originally appeared on WCET’s blog.