US Report on the growth of online courses and the rise in ‘for profit’ colleges

Friday, 28 September 2012
Report cover

Cracking The Credit Hour, a new report by Amy Laitinen for The New America Foundation, describes how the growth of online courses and the rise in ‘for profit’ colleges is adding to pressure on US colleges and universities to move away from the traditional ‘seat-time’ based model towards a competency based model. In a move supported by the federal government, some schools, colleges and universities have already migrated to a competency based model – something which is said to have been particularly to the benefit of adult learners.

However, many institutions are still reluctant to abandon the existing model – believing that may undermine their eligibility to financial support. Meanwhile the Federal Government appears to be seeking more robust measures to ensure value for learners and taxpayers. The report quotes the Dept For Education’s inspector general as telling the House of Representatives “This issue has become even more significant as on-line education has exploded in recent years, making credit-hour assignment difficult, its comparison to traditional classroom delivery a challenge, and its value increasingly important in order to ensure that students and taxpayers get what they are paying for.”

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