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Archive for November, 2007

Diploma Mill Columbus University Receives Tennessee County Tax Dollars

Friday, November 30th, 2007

Beware of Columbus University — it is a diploma mill. And right now, it is stirring up a cyclone of confusion in Blount County, Tennessee, where employees used a county tuition reimbursement program to pay for unaccredited college degrees.

This is not the first time tax dollars ended up in the pockets of a fake degree mill; and the officials of Blount County plan to insure that tax coffers do not unwittingly feed money into the illegal businesses. The tuition reimbursement policy was revised in 2002; but nothing specifically ruled out employees’ use of the funds for unaccredited universities. In fact, nothing regarding accreditation was addressed at all.

We are not referring to the accredited Columbus State University in Georgia with a sprawling campus and fine academic and athletic programs. And this is not about Columbia University, the one with ground-breaking research and a world-renowned medical center. No, we are discussing the ’school’ with a storefront rather than a campus, and a mailbox instead of a sports team.

Columbus University was based in Lousiana until a CBS News story was the catalyst for an investigation, forcing the institution to close its doors in 2004. But it popped up again in Mississippi just a few months later, where it continues to flourish. The investigation followed disclosures that high-ranking government official, Charles Abell, held a master’s degree from the degree mill. At the time, Abell was Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness.

Distance learning is a popular and fast-growing alternative that has drawn millions to online colleges and universities. Accredited online degrees are flexible; but the requirements for earning an online bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree are simliar in coursework and credits to those of traditional colleges and universities.

Reputable online degree programs are generally eligible for federal financial aid, something that is not true for diploma mills. Also, both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education maintain a database of approved accrediting agencies and colleges for those wishing to double-check their e-learning choices.

Columbus University takes the money of willing victims and sends them a worthless college diploma.  But at least Blount County, Tennessee, is working to see that it does not happen to their employees anymore.

online degrees, online schools, accredited online degree, online degree program, e-learning, diploma mill, unaccredited college degree, fake degrees, tuition reimbursement, colleges_and_universities, Columbus University, online bachelors degree, online masters degree, online doctoral degree, distance learning

Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

Online Learning Shows Promise In Education Reform

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Online education, or distance learning, is an effective means of public education reform, according to an article in the eSchool News.  In their words:

“The growing popularity and success of online learning is an important but ‘largely unnoticed’ trend that reform-minded educators and policy makers could use to much greater advantage as they seek to improve public education in general, says a new report from Education Sector, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C.

Titled ‘Laboratories of Reform: Virtual High Schools and Innovation in Public Education,’ the report urges reformers to recognize that long-sought improvements in teaching and learning already are being applied successfully in online education.

‘Virtual schooling is driving the same sorts of transforming changes in public education as Apple’s iTunes has been producing in the way people collect and listen to music,’ the report asserts. ‘While the importance of effective teaching and learning has not changed, the internet has enabled educators to significantly alter the experience of schooling.’

For example, the report says, virtual schools are ‘personalizing student learning and extending it beyond the traditional school day,’ as well as creating ‘new models for the practice of teaching—with opportunities to easily observe, evaluate, and assist instructors. And they are pioneering performance-based education funding models’.” Read full text.

I believe that as children in K-12 utilize the previously unsung benefits of ‘virtual schooling’, they will become the next generation of online college students. When these students graduate from high school, no one should be surprised if they opt for the flexibility of an online bachelor’s degree instead the traditional university experience.

After all, they will have grown up with computers, the Internet, iPods, cell phones, WiFi and PDA’s. MySpace and FaceBook, along with other Educational Tools sites, prepare them for the message boards and video-conferencing that are common in online education. The natural next step will be to earn a college degree via the technology that is like a second skin to these home-grown techies.

At least, that is what I think.

online education, distance learning, public education, educators, education reform, virtual schooling, online college, online bachelors degree, university, high school students, college students, public schools, college degree

Popularity: 8% [?]

Posted by vida

Diploma Mills: A Threat to Health and National Security

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

It is easy to think of diploma mills as someone else’s problem. But fake college degrees are used to gain employment in hospitals, schools and government. A recent article in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul highlighted a few areas of increasing concern surrounding these fraudulent diplomas — including personal health and national security.

In 2002, an 18-year old actress with ovarian cancer, Taylor Alves, fell victim to Dr. John E. Curran in Rhode Island. He held a medical degree from St. Luke School of Medicine – a diploma mill –and accelerated her death with bogus treatments that caused significant weight loss and untold emotional anguish.

The doctor had completed no medical training or coursework. He simply paid a fee and received his medical degree. The “doctor” is in jail; but the unaccredited college is still in business in the U.S., though not in Liberia, where it once thrived.

A few years ago, a reported Syrian national applied for 3 degrees from James Monroe University, another degree mill. He included a note to the “school” stating that he needed the college diplomas quickly to apply for a skilled-worker visa as a chemical weapons expert. This would allow him to remain in the United States.

Just weeks later, he received the 3 advanced degrees in chemistry and engineering in the mail. The only information needed by the ’school’ was his credit card number. Fortunately, he was a federal agent posing as the questionable “graduate”.

These are, unfortunately, not isolated cases. Thousands of bogus college diplomas are sold to the Middle East and could possibly be used to gain illegal entry into the United States. Alan Ezell, who formerly led the FBI unit that investigated diploma mills, stated that phony degrees remain a huge and growing problem.

Fortunately, a bill known as the Diploma Integrity Protection Act, sponsored by Representative Betty McCollum, is headed for a vote in the House of Representatives. If passed, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Education  and the Federal Trade Commission will have the authority to work with law enforcement agencies to identify fake degree mills and prosecute those who run them.

And perhaps best of all, at least one more loophole will be closed to terrorists and criminal ‘doctors’.

online education, distance learning, public education, educators, education reform, virtual schooling, online college, online bachelors degree, university, high school students, college students, public schools, college degree

Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

Parents Find New Reason to Return to School: Their Child’s Future

Monday, November 26th, 2007

When Mom and Dad earn a college degree, statistics show that children often follow suit.  After all, parents are the ultimate role model for their kids and are influential regarding whether they will attend college.

The Population Research Center at the  University of Texas (Austin) helped to fund a study utilizing a sample of 3,677 high school juniors. The results showed that students with college-educated parents are more likely to attain higher levels of education than students of parents with lower levels of education.  

 Of course, this is an excellent reason for parents to consider heading back to school. Children who become college graduates can generally look forward to a higher salary and a more affluent lifestyle.

But usually by the time parenthood occurs, time is precious, with one or two-earner households often balancing full-time jobs and responsibilities at home. 

Still, thanks to the innovations in technology, there is a sea of accredited online degree choices with enough flexibility to allow students to find an efficient e-learning plan of study. With no brick-and-mortar classes to attend, family time should be preserved.

It is not necessary to seek a career change when distance learning begins; but with so many choices among online schools, it is easy to become excited at the prospect of gaining skills in a career that offfers more money, a better work schedule, more stimulating tasks, and  less stress on the job.

Pursuing an online bachelor’s degree may be new territory for those whose own moms or dads did not attend college.  But if there is a desire to return to school, becoming a college graduate could pay off in the lives of the children who follow closely behind their parents.

online degrees, accredited online degrees, distance learning, e-learning, college degree, jobs, career, online bachelors degree, education, college graduate, parents, children, school

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

How Online Schools Help Improve Your Brain

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

One of my favorite books, Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential, reminds readers that learning is, or should be, a lifelong process.

The author, Richard Restak, M.D., encourages us to take advantage of the fact that the brain is a rare part of the human body that can continue to improve the more it is challenged. 

For adults who think they are over the hill or too old to learn new tricks, the Dr. Restak has this to say:

“Traditionally, neuroscientists believed that once the human brain achieved adult proportions, it remained stable over the next several decades and then underwent an inevitable decline in structure and function. They also believed that lost brain cells could never be replaced. Neither of these formerly hallowed tenets is still thought to be true.” -(Chapter 4)

Dr. Restak  – a neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, and clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University Medical Center – obviously knows his stuff.

This is a case of ‘what you don’t know can hurt you’. If you believe you can’t, then you will never try. But if you know that you can, you are well on your way to reaching your goals.

Of course, one way to keep challenging the brain is to go back to school. And online schools are perfect for those who want to study ‘under the radar’ while trying to decide whether to pursue an online associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree. 

Believe it or not, there really is little to lose by enrolling in one online class just to test the waters. 

But there are always those who want to do all or nothing. And numerous accredited online schools are interested in helping those potential students with enrollment information, financial aid, and career guidance.

But the bottom line is that going back to school stimulates the brain. So do yourself and the gray matter a favor and ’use it or lose it’.

online schools, online classes, online associates degree, online bachelors degree, online masters degree, brain, Mozarts Brain

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Penn Foster is Oldest and Second Largest Online College

Monday, November 19th, 2007

 

 

 

Penn Foster Career School is one of the oldest and largest accredited online schools in the world, second only to the University of Phoenix.

With a history that reaches back 100 years, it is so successful that it is expanding to meet the needs of its international cache of 200,000 students.

When Thomas J. Foster, a newspaperman in the 1890’s, realized that motivated working adults needed a way to improve their career skills without losing time on the job, the distance learning school was born.  The first students were coal miners who worked 12-hour days and studied late at night to move into management positions as foremen and superintendents.

Soon, adult learners all over the nation began to take advantage of classes that were high-quality and flexible. By 1945, over 5 million students had enrolled in Penn-Foster educational programs; and now that number has climbed to over 14 million.

Of course, today Penn-Foster students use computers to complete their studies via e-learning; but the idea is still the same.  Adults of all ages continue to flock to Penn-Foster’s online associate’s degrees and professional certificate programs in a wide range of career choices at a reasonable cost.

For example, the total cost for the first of four semesters leading to an associate’s degree in criminal justice costs just $1,289 (including a $100 discount currently being offered). Amazingly, this total includes books and fees.

Penn-Foster is approved by the U.S. Department of Education and is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). It is approved by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education to award Associate of Science degrees.   

 

 

online schools, online associates degree, distance learning, e-learning, adult learners, Penn Foster, University of Phoenix, US Department of Education, Distance Education and Training Council, students, professional certificate, college

Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

Soldier Found Guilty in Fake Degree Scam

Friday, November 16th, 2007

An article from South Korea in the Stars and Stripes details the conviction today of a U.S. Army soldier who used an associate’s degree from a diploma mill to beef up his and his wife’s military records in order to obtain promotions from sergeant to staff sergeant.  

The husband also falsified awards and altered other records to gain the points needed to qualify for the promotions and increase in pay. The couple were demoted and fined (her trial was in October); but they were both allowed to remain in the Army. He was also sentenced to three months of hard labor without confinement.    

The husband was convicted of conspiracy to commit larceny, dereliction of duty and making false official statements. 

 

Diploma mill cases continue to make news from around the world. But it is important to recognize that there is a difference between an accredited online degree and a fake college degree.  

The U.S. Department of Education continues to be a valuable resource for those wishing to check the accreditation of U.S. colleges and universities. They maintain a comprehensive list of both on-campus and online schools; and the information is provided online and free of charge.

online degree, online schools, diploma mill, US Department of Education, accreditation, fake college degree, US Army

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Texas A&M Offers Discounts for Online Equine Business Courses

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Equine business owners and those aspiring to careers in the horse industry may be eligible for tuition discounts at Texas A&M for online classes offered next spring at the Center for Equine Business Studies.

Those who are already involved in horse-related businesses can rarely take time off to attend traditional college classes. So this opportunity to gain valuable equine management skills from a highly-respected university is both unique and timely.

Two online courses are currently available for Spring 2008:

- Business Basics for the Equine Business, and

- Sales in the Equine Industry.

These courses may be applied to the “Certificate in Equine Entrepreneurship” at Texas A&M. They may also be taken for continuing education credit or for personal enrichment. Registration must take place by December 31, 2007 to qualify for eligible discounts.

In future semesters, the 3 additional e-learning classes required for the equine certificate will be offered:

- Equine Entrepreneurship I,

- Equine Entrepreneurship II, and

- Marketing and the Equine Industry.

According to statistics provided by the American Horse Council Foundation in 2005:

-There are 9.2 million horses in the United States, including those used for pleasure, competition, racing, ranch work, police work, breeding, rodeo and polo.

-There are over 2 million horse owners in America.

-Approximately a third of horse-owning households make less than $50,000 a year.

-The direct economic effect of the horse industry is $39 billion annually.

-Over 460,000 jobs are provided by the horse industry.

-The horse industry provides $1.9 billion to the U.S. government in various taxes.

-There are tens of millions of spectators for horse events each year.

The importance of equine businesses to the U.S. economy is often underrated and rarely publicized. But Texas A&M has taken a giant step in equipping those who are at the center of the horse industry’s continued growth and success.

It seems that the marriage of distance learning and equine business education will be a satisfactory and lasting union.

online education, distance learning, e-learning, online courses, equine education, horse industry, Texas A&M, horse owners, careers, equine business, US economy, tuition discount, jobs, business education

Popularity: 9% [?]

Posted by vida

New Philadelphia Mayor Praises Online Education

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Philadelphia’s Mayor-elect, Michael Nutter, praised online education during a speech yesterday at Drexel University.

He spoke at an awards ceremony honoring Drexel faculty and highlighting National Distance Learning Week.

Nutter was emphatic about the need for businesses to encourage adult employee to complete their bachelor’s degrees; since 80,000 people in Philadelphia lack college diplomas. By increasing the percentage of those who earn a 4-year degree, he believes that the crime rate in the city will drop and the standard of living will improve overall.

The newly-elected mayor considers e-learning an important part of providing the opportunity for adult learners to reach their lifelong goal of obtaining a higher degree.

An accredited online degree offers a flexible alternative to traditional education and allows working adults to maintain full-time employment and pursue career opportunities while attending school.

online education, distance learning, e-learning, accredited online degree, online degree, bachelor’s degree, college diploma, adult learners, employment, careers, school, employees

Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Directory of Schools Celebrates National Distance Learning Week

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

With almost 10 years spent spreading the word about online degrees, Directory of Schools is excited to see the education community enthusiastically celebrating this National Distance Learning Week, November 12th-16th.

National Distance Learning Week, which was instituted by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), is all about creating an awareness of the success and rapid growth of online education.

Directory of Schools has focused on the higher education end of the spectrum; but e-learning is rapidly trickling down to junior high and high schools as an alternative to traditional classroom learning. These young students are the future of online education.

Of course, DOS continues to add accredited online degree programs to its roster of over 9,000 distance education programs. But we also see the rise in traditional colleges and universities working to expand their offerings of online classes and online associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

The Sloan Consortium’s recent report shows that enrollment in online education is growing at a rate remarkably faster than enrollment in on-campus classes. Obviously, this has contributed to the millions of dollars currently being poured into e-learning by public and private educational institutions. 

Directory of Schools continues its commitment to provide information about e-learning, including maintaining a huge database of accredited online degree programs, online colleges and universities, and articles about distance learning. DOS makes it easy for potential students to fill out forms directly on the DOS website so they can receive additional information from selected schools.

This is a great week to open your eyes to the joys and flexibility of distance learning. Slow down, smell the roses and enter this new world of opportunities.

distance learning, National Distance Learning Week, e-learning, online schools, accredited online degrees, distance education, colleges and universities, students, education

Popularity: 3% [?]

Posted by vida