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Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. I want to share information about ASA College Which specializes in offering programs that balance traditional academic preparation with professional training and hands-on experience. With a "career-first" focus that allows students to immediately begin study in the chosen major, our programs are designed to deliver the type of knowledge and skills employers are looking for.

Deborah C


I could not agree more regarding the need for 'critical thinking, argumentation, subject matter knowledge, and writing'. Rubric usage is an excellent way to provide guidelines on the expected standards/outcomes and in itemizing the criteria for acceptable to non-acceptable assignments. It is a most welcomed tool for me and one I am expected to consult during my thinking and writing processes. Our professors use the same rubric when correcting assignments and providing feedback.

I read your closing statement and heard myself automatically say ‘cela va sans dire’ (that goes without saying). Thanks for the reminder...that this it is not necessarily everyone’s reality.

Deborah C


Your concept of moving to performance measures(competencies) caught my attention. I am familiar with the competency based approach in teaching and learning for vocational programs. Would your suggestion be along the same line? Where standards/benchmarks are uilized?

Could a competency/outcome for a Laureate student be the assignments that are submitted to turnitin? Or perhaps a prospectus that meets the IRB criteria/approval for research to proceed? Or the defense of a dissertation?

Lloyd responds: One might imagine that accreditors would define competencies that are appropriate to different degrees (as is happening in the Bologna region), and institutions then develop their own methods of measuring those competencies - or vice versa, which is what has happened (more-or-less) with WGU. The competency would not be demonstrated simply by submitting assignments to turnitin, but would require that those assignments reflected appropriate level of competencies in defined areas such as e.g. critical thinking, argumentation, subject matter knowledge, writing.

Deborah C


It is unfortunate as often happens that the 'one bad apple' causes the spoilage...

I hear you and agree on the issue of accreditation as you shared "It doesn't completely make up for stated and unstated biases such as "for-profit" higher ed can't be of high quality" or "real higher education takes place on a campus and involves full time study".

I have studied in both the traditional and on line learning environments. The same ‘stated and unstated biases’ was also said of traditional learning institutions that are accredited.

Perhaps it is incumbent upon the accrediting bodies to be more vigilant and remove the ‘worms’ that have biased the perception for those institutions which seek to uphold the principles of a solid and diverse education be they face-to-face or online. Would this help or does the stigma have deeper tentacles?

Thank you for the 'Winner Take All- Society' reference.

Lloyd responds: the biases I mentioned have multiple origins. One is simply history - what has been around for a long time must be the best. Another is indeed the bad apple effect you mentioned. A third is our idealized world of higher education, where all students are 18 years old and going to school full time at a residential campus, and anything outside of this idealized world must be second class. One can go on in outlining origins. The ultimate solution must be to move to outcomes or competencies as a measure of quality rather than looking only at inputs.

Deborah C


I agree it is a great topic/blog. One that draws the reader in and perhaps because so many persons are now on-line learners. I am also enrolled in a Laureate program and enjoy the dialogue with peers and faculty. The various perspectives on addressing education issues are refreshing. Could these perspectives be read in a book – yes. However, with the online access that the Laureate degree provides I am able to obtain an immediate response and engage in dialogue on the discussion boards, via a chat room or Skype with someone in Cairo.

Lloyd, you shared in response to Chris... "That doesn't mean that some online programs aren't equally good as some traditional ones, but that there is not yet a general recognition of the quality of some online degree programs - and that plays into the "success" issue."

Could you share a bit more among which sector(s) the general recognition of the quality of online degree programs is an issue?

Do you think gaining accreditation could play a role in allaying the concern?

Lloyd responds: Excellent questions, Deborah. Starting with the latter regarding accreditation: many online degree programs are regionally accredited (e.g. Phoenix, Walden, WGU), and that is obviously a large plus . It doesn't completely make up for stated and unstated biases such as "for-profit" higher ed can't be of high quality" or "real higher education takes place on a campus and involves full time study". Your question regarding sectors where these biases may be strongest is hard to answer. The book Winner Take All Society listed in my Useful Background section talks about areas where the question of brand value trumps all other considerations. Briefly, it's where an error by an individual can cause a visible problem for a company, and the supervisor wants to be able to say, "not my fault, I hired someone from the highest brand institution."

Ingrid Ahrens Massey

I recently heard a claim that online and face-to-face education were equally comparable, yet blended or hybrid courses yielded better results than solely online or face-to-face. Have you heard similar claims or do you have any comments?

Lloyd comments: The Department of Education released a very good study last year comparing online and face-to-face courses; the online learning outcomes were shown to be somewhat better on average than the face-to-face. Hybrid were, as you said, somewhat better than either. I have an earlier post http://bit.ly/oFpsSu describing these results, with links to the DoE study.

Jill Rooney, Ph.D.


Thanks for your post. I'm a blogger who writes about online colleges, and taught at one for several years. I wonder what you think of one of the biggest issues that school such as the University of Phoenix have faced: Accusations (often proven) of fraud, deceptive advertising, and the recruitment of under-prepared students, who then flunk out with massive debt that they cannot pay back. The Congressional investigations of 2010 found many instances where the free-for-all development of online colleges were not just disrupters of traditional education, but disrupters of students' lives and financial security. It seems to me that before we can legitimately consider the potential for innovative uses of online education, we must make sure that our accreditation system functions properly, that the for-profit system remembers to place students above profits, and that public universities with online components get the funding and public support they need. Mostly, though, we need to make sure that K-12 is doing its job. I've written extensively on this subject, taught for over 20 years, and firmly believe that the biggest "disrupter" to the traditional higher education model is the failure of American lower education to promote critical thinking skills, reading ability, and writing skills. Without those essential tools, no amount of technology is going to help a student.

Lloyd responds: Thanks, Jill, for excellent questions and comments. I earlier wrote a post on the mess some of the for-profits have made for themselves (Has for-profit higher education missed its opening into the mainstream? http://bit.ly/qjTYw4). I agree with all of your points. An interesting paper by Michael Horn entitled appropriately "Beyond Good and Evil" http://www.aei.org/paper/100216 looks at some of these issues, and suggests that government incentives have led to some of these problems, and that changes in incentives can help to solve the problems. On your point about K-12, I agree completely, but would add that we in higher ed don't focus as much as we should on developing those important skills that you mention, either.

Chris Banker

Great blog! This is one of the most informative sites out there. I too am enrolled at a Laureate institution and wondered how you feel about online education. I think it is a great way to obtain degrees but wonder if being in the classroom has become undervalued. There seems to be too many "easy" online degree universities. I teach unemployed/underemployed individuals at a community college and have seen many of them rack up debt at for-profit schools and have no idea about how to be successful in the classroom. Does anyone think it is important for undergrad degrees to be obtained at "brick and mortar" institutions or do people feel you can be successful by completing a completely online education?

Lloyd responds: excellent questions, Chris. First, data show that online education can be at least as effective as in-class education in terms of learning outcomes. However, the in class experience obviously provides greater opportunity to develop face-to-face personal skills - as opposed to online personal skills. Different people at different points in their lives probably can benefit from one approach more than from the other. "Easy" online universities are obviously another matter, and shouldn't be condoned; but then "easy" bricks and mortar U's are equally guilty. "Success" and its relation to degrees is a tricky issue. Brand name plays a big role here, and no online degree programs have yet built up the name brand that many classroom based degrees have. That doesn't mean that some online programs aren't equally good as some traditional ones, but that there is not yet a general recognition of the quality of some online degree programs - and that plays into the "success" issue.

Bob Bing

Wonderful article. The McKinsey Quarterly has encouraged businesses to think outside the box as they deal with issues surrounding globalization. They suggest for example that business seek to understand emerging markets to gain an advantage in a global economy. The task of business leaders is to overcome the paralysis that overcomes organizations during times of economic difficulty. In many ways, it appears the risks taken by disruptive organizations are a means of thinking outside the box and avoiding the paralysis outlined in the McKinsey Quarterly.

Bebi Davis

I am a Walden University Online (Laureate) doctoral student, a University of Hawaii PhD student and I am a science and math educator (high school and college). This "concept of disruptive innovation" is a great topic, and one that I was not familiar with. I see Laureate is listed as potentially highly disruptive for traditional higher education. University of Hawaii is a traditional higher education institution. Also of interest was “p2pu”.
As the "arms of globalization” reach further, what are your thoughts on how higher education institutions that are potentially high disruptors for traditional higher education will impact K-20 education? What other interesting/innovative changes you perceived happening in the realm of higher education (within the next 5 – 10 years)?
Thank you for sharing such insightful information.

Lloyd responds: good questions, and I will be addressing these issues on part in future posts. Thanks for writing.

Ingrid Ahrens Massey

Thanks for your comments! I agree with you that few people would invest the time and effort into a project that wasn't their own. I don't see this as a legitimate concern. My biggest concern is conveying the methods and practices effectively, via technology. You are right that there are numerous possibilities for sharing information. I need to branch out technologically speaking and get comfortable using them. Thanks again!


Ingrid, I agree with Lloyd that learning experiences can be just as good or more rewarding in online settings. The concern about effective teachers is not unique to online education; the traditional learning environment has similar issues. Hardly any instructor does what the each learner wants, even in adult education. Technology has made the online learning environment even more exciting than one can imagine. I recall conducting an online presentation to my colleagues in different parts of the US, while I am in the Caribbean. Some of my colleagues utilized Skype, Yugma, Facebook and MySpace. My courses provide DVD of some aspects of the learning resources. The university also conducts regular webinars. I find the online experience very exciting and rewarding.

Prior to my engagement in an online program my primary concern was the credibility of the learners. Who monitors who does what? While I believe that some learners may get assistance, I am tentative now to conclude that an outsider would spend that much time on another person’s work. Lloyd is concerned about credit hours from the perspective of regulators and institutions, online learning involves a lot of time and most well-established online programs have a timeline requirement that is comparable to traditional learning environments. I think program planners will eventually address more of our concerns as online classrooms expand in scope and popularity.

Ingrid Ahrens Massey

Lloyd, Thanks for your feedback. I think my biggest concern would be with our students who are placed in classrooms with teachers who may not be doing what we'd like to see them doing. While we try very hard to put our students with experienced, effective teachers, that doesn't always happen. And, while I agree a great deal can be learned from observing someone doing the "wrong" thing, it isn't ideal. I do like the idea of viewing the films together and commenting. That would enable those who were not in ideal placements to see other, possibly better, teaching practices.
Thanks again!

Ingrid Ahrens Massey

This particular blog is of interest to me for two reasons: I am currently attending one of Laureate's online doctoral programs, and, second, the university where I teach is considering a shift toward something like WGU for some of our programs. We currently combine both competencies/outcome based education with regular coursework in our teacher education program. My concern with a competency only platform lies within the methods courses. I feel modeling is a strong component of these courses and could not be achieved via an online only format. Any thoughts or ideas?

Lloyd responds: The Department of Education studies that looked at outcomes from online courses looked at a very broad range of courses, including such "outliers" as medical schools. Generally, students learned as well or better in the online courses. Depends on how the courses are organized. The USC Rossier School/ 2tor online MAT program has students filming their own teaching of classes in placements; faculty and MAT classmates then go over the films together (online) to learn from what has occurred in real classrooms. I think one can do most things very well online - just may have to use approaches that are different from a straight extrapolation of classroom . What concerns do you have from your own experiences?


Your post is worth a second look. However, from my perspective as a community college lecturer in a developing country, competency based learning gets my support over hours in a classroom. Hours in a classroom, as you put it, does not guarantee that learning takes place. Learning must be demonstrated through change of behavior; competency based learning can be designed to effect change of behavior.
Most higher education programs, particularly online, cater to adult learners; this category of learners is not concerned with number of contact hours or credit hours. Adult learners are focused on acquiring knowledge and skills that they can apply in their own experiences. That is, they want to become more proficient at their jobs. I, therefore, do not consider competency based learning to be disruptive to higher education.
As a student in an online program from a Laureate university, I certainly enjoy the benefits of accessing learning opportunities that span across the globe without having to leave my comfort zone (job responsibilities, family commitments and geographic location). These opportunities allow me to understand different cultures and how learning takes place within those contexts. As Colleen said, the interactions with colleagues and professors provide an enriching experience. Online education programs are driven by the emerging trends of globalization.

Lloyd responds: thanks, Ann-Marie for your excellent comments and insights. I think you have characterized all students, not just adult learners, very well. The student does not care about credit hours (which represent in some way hours spent on the course), but rather about whether they learn from the course what they need to learn. It is regulators and institutions that care about credit hours. Should the idea of competency based learning take hold, it could radically alter generally accepted concepts such as time to degree. Thus, the idea is not disruptive to education, but to the structure we currently have in place to provide and govern education. Regarding your point about online education and global opportunities, I agree completely. Well designed online courses can lead to teamwork and interaction among peoples from around the world, leading to enormous enrichment of the educational experience.

Pakistan Education

It’s a very informative and useful article. This article is very affective to increase knowledge of students. I am very thankful to you for this information.

Ellen Sorberg

I am a student of a Laureate affiliated school. I am impressed with the curriculum setup and the interaction with students all over the world. Online education is the best way to incorporate learning, family, and work.

Thanks for sharing!

Ellen Sorberg

I am a doctorate student of a Laureate institution. I have found globalized education an assett to my education. It is great to dialogue with individuals around the world. In what way do you believe culture impacts adult preference of learning?

Thanks for sharing the post.

Lloyd responds: Thanks, Ellen, for your input. You pose an excellent question that has no simple answer. However, we could begin to list some ways that culture and context are likely to impact adult preferences in learning. One would probably be the kind of k-12 education the person had - in some societies, students are expected to quietly absorb information given from their teachers; in others, a great deal of give and take is expected. These attitudes might carry over into choices for continuing learning. Another might be societal expectations that certain jobs and professions are more suitable for one group rather than another - often gender related. This would obviously influence choices people would make in pursuing more education. Even such mundane things as the average length and organization of the working day in a society can greatly impact opportunities for adults to continue education, and thus constrain their choices in types of programs to consider.

What kinds of things would you add to this short list?


I feel that it is a matter of opinion. However, I think schools that are now focusing on an easier way to facilitate higher education for adult students is a great benefit as I am enrolled at one of the universities myself. It allows you to continue your education as well as keep up with your everyday lives.

Juan Sandoval

Wow, what an interesting post. I like the application and the references of such a classic as Jim Collins' "How the Mighty Fall" and "From Good to Great" applied to the Higher Education environment. In many developing countries like my Mexico, South Africa, Brazil and India, distance and online learning at the Higher Ed level have achieved wonderful results through many and varied adaptations. But not all is disruptive when it comes to online education.

The difference in my point of view, is that exclusivity associated with Higher Ed in our countries, made it easier for them to take the step into distance learning from the start. Ok, granted: not all of their institutions have done it properly. Some have failed miserably. The thing is that when Higher Education started to become available for the masses in the developing countries, was around the same time when new technologies started being introduced massively. So they just entered the "market" hand in hand. And it seems in general, they are doing fine.

As for Bologna, well... In Latin America we copied the competencies model almost to the letter, and it has proved wrong in so many ways, though most will fail to acknowledge it. Yes, it is a great way to create new generations of "highly skilled doers", but it totally forgets the goal of knowledge creation and "highly skilled thinkers".

Again, thanks for sharing!

Lloyd responds: thanks for your excellent comments, Juan. I would be interested in hearing more detail about your feelings that Bologna has not been successful in Latin America.

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