Ed Officials Seek To Coordinate Online Classes Across States

On Tuesday and Wednesday representatives from nearly every state will meet in Indianapolis to discuss a proposal that would standardize online higher education.

student on computer

Photo: Tulane Publications (flickr)

A student works on a computer at the Tulane University Commons.

Officials from 47 states will conference in Indianapolis this week to discuss a proposal for what is called the Interstate Reciprocity Agreement, a plan to make interstate online college education easier to use.

State Higher Education Executive Officers Association President Paul Lingenfelter says students currently have to jump through hoops to take online classes from institutions in other states.

“Online distance education now enables institutions to offer instruction almost anywhere and in order to do that legally they would need to be approved in every state in which they have students,” he says.

Gaining this approval is costly and difficult because each state has its own fees and methods of accreditation and there are no standards across state lines.  The Interstate Reciprocity Agreement aims to bridge those gaps.

Indiana Commission for Higher Education Senior Associate Commissioner Ken Saur is attending the conference. In addition to learning about the proposal, he will meet with representatives from 11 other Midwestern states to discuss how feasible it would be for each to participate in the agreement.

“This is something that Indiana supports but we want to make sure that this is being carried out in a way that will work and that other states can join and institutions will want to voluntarily join as well,” Saur says.

He hopes the majority of states will agree to participate and the proposal will take effect within a year.

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