U.S. News participated in a webcast called "Ranking online education programs: A Conversation with U.S. News" on July 26. It was sponsored by WCET, a membership organization that works with colleges, universities, and others to—among other things—accelerate and adopt the use of technology for teaching and learning. Many of the nation's largest online learning programs had representatives who attended the online event, which featured a short U.S. News-led presentation about the 2011 online education rankings, followed by a WCET-moderated question and answer session. Audience members submitted questions via Blackboard Collaborate.
Here's a copy of the PowerPoint presentation that my colleague Eric Brooks and I delivered on U.S. News's upcoming online education project.
Also, WCET plans to archive the entire webcast soon.
Highlights of the webcast include:U.S. News stressed that at this point in time there is not a pre-determined methodology for doing the online program rankings, or evaluative lists, that will be published. We will first conduct the data collection, see how robust the response rates are for questions that could be used to determine qualitative differences between schools and programs, and then analyze data to determine which variables are best to use in our inaugural rankings.
The online program rankings are expected to grow in sophistication in each succeeding year as more online programs are able to report better and more meaningful data.
U.S. News made clear its expectation that, in most cases, its ranking metrics for online education will be very different than the ones used in its current Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools rankings. This is especially true regarding the online bachelor's degree survey, which assesses programs typically geared toward working adults; by comparison, the Best Colleges surveys assess programs for individuals who most often attend college directly out of high school.
In order to develop the survey questions and to determine the best indicators of quality in online education, U.S. News conducted a series of interviews with many academics from for-profits, publics, and private colleges who play a lead role in running some of the largest online programs in each of the program areas we will be surveying. These interviews proved to be an invaluable source of information.
For those interested in following the U.S. News online education project, online program rankings, and the development of U.S. News's new online education site, updates will be posted within this blog.
Past posts about our online education project include:
U.S. News Starts Collecting Data on Online Bachelor's Degree Programs
U.S. News to Collect Online Education Data
U.S. News Seeks to Fill 3 Gaps in Online Education Data
If your college has any questions about the online bachelor's survey, including which persons at your institution have access to our secure online data collection site, contact OnlineEd-Official@usnews.com.