Excited about March Madness? Proposed Section 32 Will Excite Distance Ed Fans
The annual NCAA college basketball tournament, celebrated nationally and called the “Big Dance” or “March Madness,” began last week with great hoopla.
Simultaneously, another form of “competition” occurred – the final week of the U.S. Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking process. Rulemaking can look like a “Big Dance” with representatives of higher education factions engaged in the negotiation tango. And it can definitely seem like madness with a chaotic race against the clock to quickly assess complex regulatory issues, amend or develop new regulatory language, and drive to reach full agreement before the buzzer on the final day of rulemaking.
This rulemaking was virtual, so we watched the rulemaking meetings on our computers via Microsoft Teams. Like a sporting event, we had to reserve tickets in advance to watch the show. Cheryl was armed with Diet Pepsi, large bags of Skinny Pop popcorn, and a bag of gummy bears. We (Cheryl, Russ, and the SAN team) found ourselves shouting at the screen to cheer on great explanations and cried foul at misstatements.
Today we share our postgame analysis and include a special review of the process of rulemaking. Some of the issues were extensively covered by the main press. And, in an unfortunate likeness to the relative invisibility of the women’s basketball tournament, digital learning issues were absent from mainstream reporting.
At the top of the scouting report are two items that will “excite” (as in stirring people to action) the distance and online community. Both of these are in what we have started calling “Section 32.” This section contains some vexing requirements (found in Issue #6 Certification Procedures), which did not come to consensus. Like Tom Brady (yes, we know that’s football), these proposals are not going way. The breakdown includes insight into:
- New financial aid requirements for institutions serving students in programs leading to a professional license, and,
- Institution participation in reciprocity through SARA to obtain state institution approval for interstate activity of the institution.[...]