Almeda: PR from PR
#1
A press-release from unaccredited Almeda University, datelined San Juan, Puerto Rico. Let the klone stalking of "Richard Smith" begin!

Quote:Almeda University Discusses Path Forward for Online Learning Revolution
By Almeda University
Published: Tuesday, Jun. 12, 2012 - 3:11 am

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, June 12, 2012 -- /PRNewswire/ -- The Wall Street Journal recently published a story announcing edX, a $60 million online educational partnership between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. EdX is just the beginning of a revolutionary change in the educational system, the two schools claimed. Almeda University, an online educational resource, agreed that a revolution is coming for online education and it is not slowing down. In fact, Almeda believes the revolution will pick up steam in the coming years.

But some critics are skeptical of online learning, saying it will destroy the "college experience," which normally encompasses students being in campus and interacting with professors face-to-face. However, Richard Smith of Almeda University said the skeptics are "living in another time" if they truly think online education is harming a person's chances of experiencing college. Almeda University has provided online educational opportunities for the past 15 years. Although the experience is different, it is also new and unique to students.

"The college campus experience has always been exclusionary to a large percentage of the population," Smith said. "Almeda University began its mission in 1997 as an inclusive process whereby access to education was open to everyone. We believe that education should not simply be a small limited club -- but should be open to all who are interested."

Supporters of online education argue that students do no need to physically be on campus to get in a college education. One professor can reach thousands, if not millions, of students online at a more affordable price. Some people think online education equals only lectures, but Almeda University students gain so much more. They are exposed to an array of teaching tools and can work at their own pace.

In addition, online learning offers a substantial cost savings on not only the students, but the school too, Smith said. "Online learning allows significantly larger classroom sizes without creating a burden on administration," he said.

Despite what critics believe, online education does include social interaction, even if it's not in the traditional sense people have become accustomed to in past years. "The 35,000 strong Almeda University alumni have created a unique bond through online groups where they interact, exchange ideas and promote each other's businesses," Smith said.

ABOUT:

Founded in 1997, Almeda University has provided online educational programs to its students for many years. The educational facility offers a variety of courses so students will meet their academic and professional goals. The institution incorporates innovative technology into its Web-based environment to cater to different learning styles. Because of this effort, Almeda University can reach students of all ages and help them achieve their educational goals in a timely manner. For more information, go to www.almedauniversity.org.

SOURCE Almeda University
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#2
Would be interesting to know how much (if any) Almeda's PLA model differs from the vaunted "new" competency-based approach from U of Wisconsin:

Quote:June 19th, 2012
Public university becomes first to endorse untraditional online model
Some UW faculty members, after political clashes with Gov. Scott Walker, remain skeptical of UW Flexible Degree
By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor

Students at the University of Wisconsin (UW) can earn college degrees based on proven competency in a subject, making UW the first publicly-funded school to launch a competency-based degree program.

Led by officials at UW-Extension, a continued learning program with offices located across Wisconsin, the UW Flexible Degree will let incoming students demonstrate their knowledge and cut down on the time it takes to earn a degree.

UW Chancellor Ray Cross and Gov. Scott Walker unveiled the Flexible Degree program June 19 as a way to help Wisconsinites boost their education credentials and fill empty jobs that require a two-or-four-year degree.

Students who enroll in UW’s nontraditional degree program could receive financial help from federal and state grants and employer-sponsored grants. Employers involved in the Flexible Degree program will also help recent graduates pay back loans used to fund their education.

While competency-based learning isn’t new—Western Governors University (WGU) has used the model for years—UW’s embrace of the nontraditional online degree track is noteworthy because, unlike the private nonprofit WGU and for-profit online colleges, UW is a public campus.

Offering more flexible options for adults returning the school, Cross said, would help the unemployed and underemployed fill some of the tens of thousands of open jobs just waiting for qualified applicants.

“We know now which features and benefits many adult students want. Our goal is to address these needs in new ways, but we can only achieve that goal by efficiently leveraging all the UW System’s resources in a truly collaborative fashion,” Cross said.

About 20 percent of Wisconsin adults have some postsecondary course credit, according to state statistics. These adults, if enrolled in the new competency-based model, would not have to begin their higher education in the most basic classes, saving them money and time.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, associate professor of education policy studies at UW, wrote in a blog post that a competency-based approach was worth the investment, because “credit for sitting in a seat for a certain amount of time has never felt smart.”

“One way to ensure quality is pushed higher is to encourage the kinds of students who now take in-person courses to try out these online classes, perhaps in summer, and have them … respond with their demands,” Goldrick-Rab wrote. “They will help raise the bar and keep standards high. In other words, diverse online classes of learners, rather than segregated ones, will ensure the quality of instruction.”

Goldrick-Rab, like many educators who supported the attempt to oust Walker in a June 6 recall election, said she was wary of the governor’s involvement in the Flexible Degree initiative.

“I have a hard time believing he has the best interests of UW System at heart,” she wrote. “That said, I don’t think this was Walker’s idea, and I don’t think his interest in it means it’s necessarily a bad idea.”

Walker applauded UW decision makers for embracing an approach that, so far, has only been used by for-profit schools and nontraditional colleges and universities.

“This new model for delivering higher education will help us close the skills gap at an affordable price to get Wisconsin working again,” Walker said. “As states across the country work to improve access and affordability in higher education, I am proud to support this exciting and innovative University of Wisconsin solution.”

The competency-based learning model gained national attention last summer when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $4.5 million to WGU, a Utah-based nonprofit online school formed in 1999 with about 20,000 students. The grant money was used to bolster the university’s web-based programs in Indiana, Washington state, and Texas.

The Gates Foundation selected WGU’s subsidiary programs largely because students there can advance toward a degree by demonstrating knowledge and skills, rather than taking redundant credit hours, said Hilary Pennington, the foundation’s director of postsecondary success.

“College students have changed, and it’s time higher education made some changes to keep up with them,” said Pennington, adding that the foundation awarded the grant to WGU “because they have a strong track record of providing a high-quality, affordable, and flexible college experience that meets the needs of today’s students.”
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