“Seeing as how the institution itself isn’t doing a particularly good job, why can’t we be accredited as individual instructors? Have some sort of accreditation that says, yes, this person can teach these courses.” Lee Bessette writing in Inside Higher Ed.
Every now and then, an idea comes along that is so smart, all you can think is, “why didn’t anybody think of that before?”
One such idea was offered in “Accrediting Individuals, Not Institutions,” a post that Lee Bessette wrote for Inside Higher Ed. Bessette writes about colleges that are in danger of losing their accreditation and notes that . . .
- When colleges are put on probation and are in danger of losing accreditation, the reasons for that are always financial or administrative, not academic. In other words, the college’s professors have not done anything wrong. Yet they are being penalized, and so are the students.
- Why not accredit professors, not institutions? As an example of how this might work in the real world, Bessette points to StraighterLine’s Professors Direct program, and writes, “ . . . StraighterLine will begin to allow their instructors to set the price they charge for the (often accredited) courses they offer.”
How StraighterLine’s Professors Direct Program Works
StraighterLine is not currently doing exactly what Bessette is recommending; we are not accrediting professors. What StraighterLine is doing, however, is offering a direct connection between professors and students who take our courses online.
The program is called Professors Direct. To date, 15 college professors take part in the program. They have become StraighterLine professors. They teach a wide variety of StraighterLine courses in areas like English, mathematics, science. It is something entirely new in American higher education, a direct link between online students and caring, committed professors.
It could also be a step toward creating the kind of reforms in American higher education that Bessette writes about. What do you think?
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