We are all familiar with the endless myriad of online educational institutions, such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry. They offer diplomas for taking courses from the convenience of your home, at prices that are often competitive or comparable to traditional institutions. Even traditional schools are in the online education game today, with most offering extension schools to provide the flexibility of distance learning to their students.
But I’m not here to talk about accredited online education – this market is well established and understood. I’d like to talk about non-accredited online education.
Non-accredited education is the delivery of a course to students in which the course is not evaluated by an external standards body. It is a broad term that can apply to many forms of education – such as a class at your local library, or the training session held by a colleague at work. There are many reasons for people to engage in non-accredited education – but typically it is based on personal interests (which is more than can be said of my college differential calculus class).
Non-accredited adult education is often structured at the community level, such as through town recreational organizations. In some less common cases, it has been organized at an urban level through a non-profit such as the Boston Center for Adult Education or the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. The courses can range across all topics, such as introduction to web page design, marketing your business on the web, buying a house, and writing a will. The courses are taught by individuals with subject matter expertise in the topic and a social or business motivation behind teaching.
A good example is the will writing class my wife and I took a few years back. For a fee of $60, we gathered with other couples in a classroom at our local high school to be taught the basics of will writing by a local lawyer. The lawyer ran her own small practice in town, and will writing was a key service she provided. A few days after the course, the lawyer provided each of us with a provisional will based on the information we developed in class – and an offer to engage her law practice to write a more comprehensive will. My wife and I received real value through a short and inexpensive course – and the lawyer received potential future clients.
Many people like me have a real interest in non-accredited adult education, but are hindered by three challenges:
- Time – Inability of a student to fit course into their busy schedule
- Location – Inconvenience of a course location
- Awareness – Lack of knowledge of a course of interest to student
Sound familiar? Well, these were the key drivers behind the development of distance or e-learning, and thus your ability to get a high school diploma on the web today.
Unfortunately, non-accredited online education is virtually non-existent on the internet. To prove the point, try to find a will writing course online taught by a real lawyer. You will find lots of web sites offering various services, but no actual will writing course.
Why? Well, that was my question, which we will explore further next week in my blog.