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State Authorization & Distance Learning: Where are we now?

About the Event

On March 7th, UMassOnline in collaboration with the EDUCAUSE community Constituent Group: Blended and Online Learning will convene a distinguished panel of higher education experts for an update on state authorization and out-of-state schools. This has been one of the hottest topics in higher education over the past year, and the event is an opportunity to hear the latest developments and implications.

In October 2010, when the U.S. Department of Education first made explicit reference to distance learning and state authorization, in the final “Program Integrity” rules, the online learning boom and state-by-state jurisdiction seemed on a collision course. Most schools enrolled online students nationwide but lacked authorization beyond their home state, and state requirements were often far from transparent. The initial compliance deadline of July 1, 2011, risking loss of Title IV funding, looked impossible.

Through 2011, a variety of important developments took place. First, the Department of Education extended the compliance deadline to July 1, 2014, requiring a “good faith” effort in the meantime. SHEEO (State Higher Education Executive Officers), the association of state agencies, committed to producing an authoritative guide to state requirements, which it published in the Fall and keeps up-to-date. Finally, a federal judge threw out the new state authorization requirement, citing lack of due process but leaving state authority intact.

One result of the Act has been to focus attention on the many colleges and universities that now employ online learning and varied degrees of onsite support to offer study on a national and international scale. While new technology has been helpful in connecting students to education, the regulatory requirements and evaluative measures that govern authorization vary considerably from state to state, in part due to state policies originally designed to regulate in-state residential campuses. Fifty individual states, and the institutions that seek approval to offer courses within them, now engage in duplicative and inconsistently applied regulatory processes. As a result, reform is needed in the policies and processes of state regulatory review and approval for postsecondary educational institutions that offer degrees across multiple state boundaries.

The Presidents’ Forum, in conjunction with The Council of State Governments (CSG), has been jointly engaged in a Lumina Foundation for Education funded project entitled Multi-State Reciprocity in Postsecondary Approval and Regulation. Together, these organizations have initiated exploration of the possibility of an interstate reciprocity agreement, and begun developing a model compact designed to reform and develop more efficient, common, and shareable regulatory and authorization processes in postsecondary education.


Information Attendees Can Expect to Gain

In 2012, where are we now? Our panel will address the following key questions:

  • How are state requirements evolving?
  • What does “good faith” effort look like? What are the enrollment and cost implications?
  • In how many states are schools securing authorization, and for what kinds of “presence?" Does the total vary by school type?
  • How many schools are opting to bar enrollment from certain states?
  • What is the latest on federal authority, and Department’s and APSCU’s appeals?
  • What is the latest on interstate compact efforts?

The panel will also review the steps UMassOnline has taken to date, and plans for the future.

Must-Attend Event for Many

This event is for higher education leaders and administrators with responsibility for their institution’s distance learning strategy and compliance.  The event also welcomes state and federal representatives.  Attendance is also suggested for current and potential online learners enrolled in or evaluating online programs from out-of-state schools. 

About The Speakers:

Speaker Bio: 

Dr. Meg Benke is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at SUNY Empire State College. Her roles have focused on college wide programs and on distance learning, building the college’sCenter for Distance Learning into one of the foremost and most innovative open and online systems in the United States. She has been at the college for the past 17 years overseeing the Center for Distance Learning, which is the largest provider of online education in New York state, and one of the largest programs in the country. Dr. Benke has worked with Empire State College to build partnerships with unions, corporations and the military to promote college degrees for employees. She was recognized for the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual, by Sloan-C, a national consortium for distance learning providers in 2007 and  named to its inaugural class of Sloan-C Fellows.  She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for SLoan-C. She has been actively involved in the substantial change committee of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and has served as an externalevaluator for many institutions and programs in higher learning. Benke’s work is dedicated to increasing access to higher education for adult learners through distance education. Benke is particularly interestedin increasing employability of graduates, and worked to ensure that the outcomes of an online education matched traditional education from a quality perspective. She also consults nationally on how universities provide student services in online education programs, and has served on a variety of national efforts to create standards for quality in online education.

Speaker Bio:

Richard Garrett leads Eduventures Continuing & Professional Education Learning Collaborative (CPE-LC) and Online Higher Education Learning Collaborative (OHE-LC), membership programs for institutions seeking to grow their adult and online enrollment and enhance their operations. The CPE and OHE programs are unique sources of intelligence on adult and online higher education enrollment and programming trends, evolving consumer demand, school positioning and operational strategies.

Richard has more than 15 years' experience researching higher education trends worldwide, particularly online learning, non-traditional students, internationalization, and commercial activity. Prior to joining Eduventures in 2005, Richard was Deputy Director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education in the United Kingdom. Richard has also worked as a researcher in the School of Education, University of Surrey and at the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, both in the United Kingdom. Richard earned both a B.A. and an M.A. from King’s College, University of London, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education from the University of Cambridge.

Speaker Bio:

Michael Leamy is the Distance Education Coordinator at Fitchburg State University.  Mike has been in this role since 2006.  Mike has been working in the field of distance education since 2001.  He has been published in the field and recently presented at national conferences on “Managing Student Interactions from a Distance” and “Training Faculty to Stay Current”.

Michael has attended several conferences on HEA State Authorization including a few national conferences with presentations including the USDOE. He has worked with different organizations conducting research. At his university, he made initial contact with all states and authorizing bodies. The university has received approval from more than 20 state agencies and continues to work in the remaining states where there is a need. Mike has accepted a request to join the Congressional E-Learning Caucus.

Speaker Bio:

Paul H. Shiffman, Ed.D., joined Excelsior College in 2002, and currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Strategic and Governmental Relations. Dr. Shiffman is charged with developing  concepts and programs focused on supporting and accomplishing Excelsior’s strategic and long range goals with a particular focus on advocacy for and delivery of online learning and adult distance education. He also serves as Executive Director of The Presidents’ Forum, a policy institute comprised of a national membership of higher education leadership, focusing on policy, regulatory, and fiscal issues associated with adult serving and distance learning institutions. Prior to joining Excelsior College, Dr. Shiffman served in a variety of administrative roles in academe and public service including Vice President for Institutional Planning and Advancement at State University of New York Rockland Community College, Executive Associate to the President and Assistant Vice President for Government Relations at State University of New York Empire State College, Executive Associate to the Vice Chancellor for Educational Technology of the SUNY System, Coordinator of Legislative and Educational Policy for the National Education Association of New York, Executive Director of the Standing Committee on Education of the New York State Assembly, and Educational Planner for Early Childhood through Secondary Education in the Office of Planning and Budget for the Governor of the State of Georgia to name a few. He has held faculty teaching appointments at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital in Philadelphia, Temple University, North Georgia College, Georgia State University, The College of Saint Rose, and SUNY Empire State College. Dr. Shiffman earned a B.A. (Psychology) from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a M.Ed. (Educational Administration) from Georgia State University, and an Ed.D. (Educational Psychology - Classroom



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Offered in collaboration with the EDUCAUSE community Constituent Group: Blended and Online Learning

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