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Internet Learning

Internet Learning

Abstract

The process of accreditation is a systematic review through which the public may be assured that an institution provides quality education. Accrediting bodies typically address the quality of the program and institution, not course design. Distance education components may or may not be included in accreditation assessment. Quality MattersTM (QM) is a research-centered approach to continuous quality improvement for online learning. QM addresses only course design, not the quality of a program or institution. The primary aim of this article is to examine the intersection of exemplar accreditation standards from a representative professional association and Quality MattersTM Rubric Standards (QM Standards) for best practice in distance education. The author evaluated primary standards documents for congruity and disparity, strengths and limitations. Such close examination may serve as a model for accrediting bodies to engage in open dialog to improve the quality of distance education. The author concluded that standards are complementary in this instance; however, the numerous differences indicate opportunities for enhancement. The intent of each accrediting organization and their respective standards is the benefit of stakeholders. The author recommends collaboration between accreditation agencies and institutes of higher education to modify standards related to distance education. Modifications to each set of standards have the potential to improve the quality of distance education for the benefit of institutions of higher education, the public, learners, and their respective professions.

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