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UPDATE: A Response to OpEds on GWU

Public-University Group Offers Alternative
to Obama’s College-Rating Plan
                                         

This article in The Chronicle raises the very important issue of standards.  Sadly, while this debate is being focused n universities that already have elaborate requirements for exporting, Three years after this state accepted WGU as a
state university” there is still no accountability because Mendenhall and his fellow investor/administrators have managed to hide behind a false façade of being a non profit.  For those who do not know this story I recommend they read the post and comments below.

UPDATED:from April 3, 2011,   Three years later the WGU story is still with us.  I recently reviewed the thread and, as far as I can see WGU still has no exam coaches instead of faculty, grades its students as pass fail, refuses to disclose data on completion rates or  ability of grads to get jobs.  Oh yeh … it pays high salaries to its execs who are also its investors but shares with the NFL the elite status of being a tax free 501c!  

I recommend reading the comment thread to get an ideas of what WGU is all about.

Washington state’s partnership with online universities offers quality option

Western Governors University President Robert W. Mendenhall argues that the proposed partnership between the online, nonprofit university would provide state residents with another quality option for higher education.

By Robert W. Mendenhall, Robert W. Mendenhall is president of Western Governors University.

Online university doesn’t offer ‘real college education’

Western Washington University professor Johann Neem argues the Washington Legislature should not partner with Western Governor’s University. He says the online university does not offer an experience that compares with that offered by the state’s public higher-education institutions.

By Johann Neem, Johann Neem is associate professor of history at Western Washington University.

MY RESPONSE:

I am very disappointed by President Mendenhall’s defense of WGU.

I am certain he knows very well that online education is NOT the issue.  Nor is “competency.”

Washington’s community colleges already offer online education and do so at a tuition that is one half of the cost at WGU.

Dr. Mendenhall’s  claim that WGU offers credit for competency is also bogus. All universities that I know of,  give credit for work experience by offering students opportunities to take tests of their competence and by placing students at levels consistent with their existing abilities.  In contrast, one transfer student from USC,  reported that WGU would not accept her A’s and B’s from the University of Southern California!

The real issue is whether WGU meets the standards of Washington State students and employers.  I have been working for two weeks with WGU, the Gates Foundation and colleagues from both the university and the private sector to answer that question.  I have asked five, specific questions:

1. What is the WGU graduation rate?

2.  Who are the faculty?

3. Are WGU degrees well recognized?

4.  Do WGU graduates get jobs?

5. What is the business model of WGU?

I have not been able to get answers to these questions. This is what I have been able to find out:

1. What is the WGU graduation rate?

Neither WGU nor the people I spoke with at the Gates Foundation have been able to answer this simple question.

Neither WGU’s online materials nor an annual report that Dr. Mendenhall sent to me answer this simple question.  Instead, WGU avoids the issue by claiming to graduate about 2000 students a year and to lose only 25% of its students during their first year.

Based on what I can gather from the data they sent me,  the rate of baccalaureate graduation seems to be as low as 20%. If they have better data, why don’t they show it in the annual report?

2.  Who are the faculty?

WGU does claim to have” faculty,” the problem is that WGU does not identify the credentials of its faculty.  Instead it refers to “mentors” and says these mentors help students study without the mentors having expertise in the subject matter.

Even if this concept of mentors without expertise made sense,  the lack of credentials is very disturbing, especially for faculty making up the faculty councils that oversee each subject area.   Even WGU’s current Interim Provost, the chief academic officer, does not offer her “curriculum vita” and a search of the web for credentials for past provosts Sal Monaco and Douglas Johnstone led to nothing other than VERY brief credentials for Dr. Monaco at Linkedin.  Even though Douglas Johnstone, is listed as the author of an online text on distance learning, he is the only contributor to that text whose credentials are not listed on the textss website.

3. Are WGU degrees well recognized?

One reason that WGU wants the legislature to recognize it as a Washington State University, is that the degrees and courses  our universities offer  are universally accepted.  Within the state, most credits from community colleges, state colleges and our universities are transferable.  It is not at all clear that this should be so for WGU degrees or credits.

While WGU brags that it is accredited, that is deceptive.  The group that issues regional accreditation covers everything from the UW to trade schools. Even beauty schools are accredited.

Again, rather than data on acceptance of WGU degrees, WGU’s materials offer testimonials. Moreover, some of the credentials awarded by WGU are certificates of competence.  For example, WGU offers the same certification in various topics that Microsoft makes available even at the high school level. While these certificates are valid, they do not represent “university” level training.

It is not even clear that WGU itself recognizes work done at traditional universities. One student from USC posted this on the web:

“This is an online university and is accredited, so I thought it would be safe, but it is not. I had to relocate my senior year as a biology major at USC, so I was trying to find an online university where I could complete my last semester of college.

I start classes, if you can call the WGU intoductions to online education course a class. If you have an 8th grade education it is essentially busy work for a few weeks (cutting and pasting things from the school’s web site into Word documents to answer questions).

After this course was over I finally get what courses transferred and come to find out out of 115hrs of courses from a well-ranked state university about 12 classes transferred. I was enrolled in their education major to teach high school biology.

I was a biology major at USC (a school that has millions in NIH grants for science research) and all of my grades were As or Bs and NONE of them transferred! Instead I had to go to a local tech school and take online tests in the subject areas. Classes with actual labs taught by PhDs weren’t enough to transfer, but a book report and a test was enough to get credit through the school.

My advisor told me that I should be able to graduate in as little as 3 years! I could go to the local community college and graduate in 2 semesters. What’s accelerated about a program that doesn’t accept core class transfers from other schools (although they will lead you to believe that almost everything will transfer).

This school comes across as a diploma mill that makes you homeschool yourself and then gives you a piece of paper. The scary thing is that they are turning out teachers every day that could be teaching your children based on this sorry excuse for a curriculum.”

 

While this student’s comment is as anecdotal as the glowing comments of students in WGU’s annual report, her concerns would seem to require that the WGU website be a lot more explicit about its own standards.

One especially disturbing example of WGU’s self promotion  may approach fraud.  When I read the annual report I was impressed that  one graduate had earned a Fulbright Scholarship.  I went to the web since Fulbright, unlike WGU, is open about its achievements.  I did identify one WGU “graduate” who had won a Fulbright.  This man, Greg Fowler, is a WGU associate provost who was given an MBA at WGU after earning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a doctorate at other, traditional  schools.  Although Dr. Fowler’s credentials are not available from WGU, I did find them on Linkedin. His Fullbright happened before coming to WGU.  Why would WGU take credit?

A final example comes from WGU’s own promotional materials. This is how WGU describes its bachelors’s and master’s degree programs:

Instead of earning credits based on the number of courses they take, students progress by successfully completing required competency assessments related to their degrees. These come in different forms: written assignments completed online; objective and essay exams administered at secure testing centers; and, in the case of student teachers enrolled in WGU’s teachers college, supervised observations in local schools. Bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates must also complete a final project and defend it orally.

The obvious issue is who reads these essays and especially who grades the oral defence if WGU does not employ faculty experts? Who would employ a Master’s student whose oral exam was approvced by an anonymous, uncredentialed faculty?

4.  Do WGU graduates get jobs?

Again, neither the Gates nor WGU have been willing or able to give me real statistics.  Indeed, numbers on the WGU website, suggest that the rate of employment for WGU graduates may be about the same as it is for unemployed people in our current recession.

Instead of hard data, the WGU annual report and their website offer anecdotal compliments from selected students and employers.

One reason for this may be that WGU does not meet the standards of Washington State employers. For example, I asked a Microsoft colleague to look at the program to see whether the BS and MS programs met Microsoft’s standards for hiring engineers.  I wad told that the answer was no.  A review of their programs by a UW professor responsible for similar programs at UW Bothell, reached the same conclusion here on The AVE.

As another example, I am told that the teacher’s certificate from WGU does not meet Washington State standards. Instead, their students get certified in Utah, where standards are lower.  These students then  transfer the certification to our state.

Why don’t WGU students meet Washington standards? A reason for this may be apparent from comments made by their former provost, Douglas Johnstone:

Douglas Johnstone, WGU provost, (explained) that students who are seeking their teaching license for the first time are paired with a mentor-coach in a local school system for one semester of practice teaching. All other coursework is completed online. WGU will arrange the practice teaching in a school where the student lives. Students and mentors must submit progress reports to WGU.

Teachers who are licensed already and are taking the course to upgrade their skills or to become qualified in their subject matter are not required to do practice teaching in a classroom, Johnstone said.

Things  missing here raise three questions:

Who reviews these progress reports at WGU?

Who grades ANY test at WGU?

Who teaches the “subject matter?”

The last two questions bring us back to the issue of who are the faculty. WGU claims to be preparing teachers for the high school level, yet it does not identify faculty with expertise in Biology, English, History, Literature or Math.  

Do we want high school math teachers who have not had their knowledge evaluated by faculty with expertise in math? Three colleagues .. another UW professor, a Microsoft engineer, and a professor from Shoreline Community College reviewed WGU’s math curriculum and found it at the level of “remedial math.”

It is scary to imagine that Garfield would hire a high school math teacher based on a WGU credential.

5. What is the business model of WGU?

The model is worrisome for another reason.  A major argument made by President Mendenhall for public support of WGU is their claim to save money by not needing faculty and because they are non profit.

While WGU is officially “non profit”, its annual report provides no details on its finances.  All that I can find out is that their President, Robert Mendenhall, is payed nearly $700,000.  This presidential salary is about twice the level of pay of the Presidents at all but a very few of America’s best private colleges.

One of the proponents of WGU  commented to me that the salary of WGUs president was “not as much as the UW pays its football coach.”  That was correct.  At $700,000 it is hard to find a good football coach.

At the same time, I estimated the annual income of WGU at approximately $120,000,000. It would be very interesting to learn what other WGU administrators are paid, especially in comparison to the modest salaries of academics at most other American colleges.

These financial issues also have bearing on  WGU’s claim that passing the bill would not cost our taxpayers money.  We, the taxpayers of this state and of the USA, do provide most or at least a very large proportion of WGU’s income  in the form of scholarships and aid.  The slick WGU website quickly leads applicants to advice abut  possible support from the VA, Pell funds, unemployment retraining, or other sources that we all pay for.

Finally,  What is not clear, is whether the offerings at WGU meet Washington State’s standards and whether students at WGU are getting a good deal. Until there is time for WGU to offer that information, I oppose HB1822, the bill that would recognize WGU as a Washington State University.




27 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Steve Hauschka #
    1

    If any of the regular Washington State 2 or 4 year colleges offered courses with such fantasy faculty and so little obvious substance with respect to preparing students for jobs in their supposed areas of expertise, the Legislature, be it Democratic or Republican, would shut it down in an instant.

    What is more, the State would almost certainly be the target of Class Action Law suits for hundreds of millions of dollars based on tuition money wasted, and on reasonable job expectations that never materialized due to substandard educational achievements of the vast majority of students.

    To provide an umbrella of Washington State Educational legitimacy to a business with such flimsy educational credentials, and that so clearly dupes well-intentioned Washington State citizens into paying exorbitant amounts for a near useless education would be a travesty.

    Shame on any representatives who votes to pass bill HB 1822.

  2. Anonymous WGU manager #
    2

    I’m a manager at WGU and can give you the real grad numbers. Depending on the program they hover between 22% and 35%. They are obviously not proud of these numbers so they are driving to change them but in the meantime hide them.

    The accreditation they receive is based on counting their mentors as faculty. Unfortunately, this is problematic because many mentors have only bachelor’s degrees and are working in program areas where they have no subject matter expertise. Mentors work with students from their home offices in each college at an 1:80 ratio and are specifically trained NOT to offer academic assistance. They call weekly just to provide contact for the purposes of meeting requirements for attendance to administer federal financial aid. The real faculty work with students by phone appointment upon request and often serve hundreds to thousands of students in a single course.

    This institution has gone through excessive policy change and restructuring- last spring they terminated all of the college deans and any faculty who had been problematic. Because of the frequent change and chaos, as well as the lack of strong investment in managers and leadership talent, the staff and faculty, who work remotely, have begun to experience high turnover.

    Although this institution claims to be open access and student focused, the President recently compromised the integrity of the mission for the bottom line, asking the board to approve enrollment requirements that would allow them to refuse any student who did not have previous college experience. The board fortunately refused to approve the measure. WGU has professed they are trying to earn Great Places to Work status. However, they continue to hire from the outside and fail to promote effort and talent from within, trying to buy the credentials they lack instead of investing in human talent that was exhausted themselves to support their 35% growth rate. Most disturbing of all is Mendenhall’s large financial donation and support of the effort to undermine legalizing gay marriage in California. The president is heavily involved in the LDS church and his 700,000 salary is invested in their efforts across the globe.

  3. theaveeditor #
    3

    Ed.

    There is a lot to discuss here. I do not know the author and certainly can not comment on her or his conflation of Dr. Mendenhall’s involvement in the Mormon Church with the other issues in the comment. Certainly Robert Mendenhall’s stand on Prop. 8 in California is his business and not mine..

    That said, a number of the points in the comment ring true. This sis especially so for WGU’s inability to disclose numbers about graduation rates, employment rates, or its finances.

  4. Anonymous #
    4

    I can speak to the evaluation issue. Work done by students is evaluated via a website tool called Taskstream where a team of subject matter experts follow a rubric to score a student’s work as pass or fail. These evaluators are not faculty though so sometimes students get caught in conflicts between the evaluator’s feedback and the faculty’s guidance. The faculty is strictly prohibited from talking to students directly about the task or work required they can only answer questions by request about the content or concepts. As for capstones or oral defenses, they were dropped from many programs when they decided the time to took to grade these long projects and get committees together was slowing down their grad rate. Most programs now have online portfolios graded by anonymous evaluators according to a rubric.

    As for teaching, students here may go through their entire program without ever having spoken to anyone but their mentor. They are given online resources often organized into self paced auto evaluated modules and e texts. They are given three times to pass an exam and then asked to exit the program if they can not. While they are given access to free faculty assistance and tutoring if they struggle, because they are not allowed to ask for direct feedback on their actual work, students who are truly not equipped to be Independent learners often struggle.

  5. theaveeditor #
    5

    Are these mentors really sales agents a la Ashford and Phoenix?

  6. Ann Boudreau #
    6

    How can a legitimate “non-profit” company get away with not making public its annual financial reports? Have the sponsors of HB1822 read any WGU financial reports? Do the legislators who have endorsed this “university” as a “Washington State” institution that will take the money of Washington citizens with the state’s stamp of approval actually know what student tuition at WGU pays for?

    If WGU operates under a “student mentor” system rather than through courses taught by credentialed faculty, then tuition must not be used primarily to pay for faculty salaries. If there are no physical labs needed for lab science courses, if there is no physical campus where classes take place, if there is no hands-on teaching or research being conducted, then the money isn’t going to pay the costs of those items either. And if WGU does not develop its own online courses but instead buys off-the-shelf video courses and out-of-date textbooks, then the money also isn’t being spent on course development.

    What, then, does student tuition pay for?

  7. Cedric #
    7

    I can’t speak to ‘out of date’ textbooks, but all of the materials for my IT degree are current and recognized. Yes, their model is not for everyone, but if I have the ability and prior education and experience to complete the coursework, why should I have to sit through lectures about what one person ‘thinks’ the course is telling me? I’m in IT-it’s not going to be any different whether I read it from a text, take a webinar, or sit in a classroom for 16 weeks. The difference is that I pay my tuition for 6 monts for an unlimited amount of study material that I can go through as slowly or as quickly as I want, with the end result being industry standard tests for comprehension that are recognized by everyone in my career field from CE0’s on down to the lowliest phone worker. The US Government recognizes the program, Google recognizes it, Microsoft recognizes it. That is enough.

    It may be a model that traditional brick and mortar faculty are afraid of. Fine. Your job security is not my concern. Furthering my career is. I took my second bachelors of science at night through a local private college and it took me 4 years to finish classes that I could have done in 2 and a half, and the only thing that saved me from debt was prior military service. I ‘paid’ 1/3rd more, but I gladly would have traded my Doane college degree that took 4 more years for the two years I wouldn’t have lost with my family by going to night school 4 nights a week. If students are not self starters and learners they will fail at this curriculum. That being said, don’t discount the multitude of us that have no problem learning on our own, that can demonstrate our skills practicably with any of our traditionally educated peers or even more so, just because your bread and butter is founded on us attending your lectures on schedule 3 days a week for an hour like so much high school.

  8. Cedric #
    8

    RipOffReport? really? That is the best you can come up with, Mr.(Dr?) Neem? That is your scathing rebuke to WGU, the opinion of a former student that didn’t do her research? I would have expected more from her, and better research from you. You posted a link to 1 instance of a person on an anonymous website that had a bad experience because she needed her hand held. I also read the separate blog post RE: the computer science curriculum-WGU doesn’t offer computer science curriculum, and doesn’t claim to-so, why would a graduate of the school be applying for an Engineering position? If they were hired for such a position, who is more at fault, the applicant, or the idiot that hired them without looking into what their experience was?

  9. theaveeditor #
    9

    Can you clarify what WGU does offer in IT? They do list this as one of their four areas. If the degress do not qualify soeone in CS, what do they qualify someone for?

  10. theaveeditor #
    10

    Cedric,

    I have had the WGU Bachelors and masters curricula looked at by two experts. Neither one can figure out what jobs this wouild qualify a student for. can you help?

  11. LEGO #
    11

    Cedric,

    it is good to see a defender of WGU who is not anonymous!

    As a Washington citizen very concerned about higher ed, these are my concerns about WGU.

    As I see it WGU makes a lot of deceptive claims about why it is better than a traditional school. You echo some of these, especially about how long it takes to get a degree. As a matter of fact, a student at the UW, if he works hard enough, can graduate in three years. Another WA state school, Evergreen, operates on the contract model and CERTAINLY gives credit for real world experiences.

    I am also concerned that WGU does not meet the standards of our community colleges much less the standards of our regional colleges and universities. Why does it not disclose who its faculty are and why are its courses graded pass-fail? Why should an employer trust a WGU decree?

    As a parent , I am also frighted that WGU claims to train high schools science teachers without offering laboratories or interactions with faculty in math.

    For that matter, who teaches writing at WGU if there are no faculty?

  12. statsgirl #
    12

    I work as an administrator at a WA community college and I support WGU as an alternative for students seeking higher education and a pathway to a better job and future.

    The reason online education has grown so tremendously is because it meets the needs of today’s students. Sitting in a classroom listening to lectures 3-4 hours per day, 4-5 days per week does not. Students want anywhere, anytime learning with experiential coursework and interactive discussion with fellow students. They want education to fit in with the other demands of life – work, parenting, social activities.

    I am an Evergreen State College grad and I recall the same kind of outcry when the college was founded. The idea of self-evaluations instead of grades, seminars in place of lectures, and ‘programs of study’ instead of majors really had the public, especially faculty, concerned about similar issues -Was the coursework rigorous enough? Could students be relied upon to accurately assess their own learning, were WA state “standards” for earning baccalaureate degrees being violated? Well, not only were those concerns unfounded, TESC is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, graduating students with the kind of critical thinking skills valued by employers and needed in our society.

    I agree that it’s important to ask tough questions and to hold WGU accoutable to the students and taxpayers, but lets not let “the sky is falling” rhetoric stand in the way of much needed educational reform.

  13. theaveeditor #
    13

    You totally miss the point.

    No one I know is arguing for or against the use of any method for learning .. whether that is self study, experience, or programmed instruction.

    WGU’s calaims go WAY beyond that.

    1. They claim to be able to “teach” a subject with no faculty responsible for subject matter. The only critieria for a student’s success is pass fial on a commercial test for whicg WGU provides “mentors” to coach students on how best to prepare for the exams.

    2. WGU discloses neither theit budget, graduation rate, or emplyment rate for graduates.

    3. WGU does not even offer courses (however taught) most people would expect to be required for the degrees it awards .. e.g. math beyond the high school level, interactive writi9ng instruction, or hands on labs in the science subujects they claim their grads are prepared to teach.

    Also, as someone very proud of Evergreen, if you are a graduate, let me offer congrats! Great school. BUT you very much understate the rigor of Evergreen and of the portfolios in offers employers in places of grades. WGU does not even empy the kind of faculty needed to work out an Evergreen curriculum, supervise any student taking such a customized course of study or write an evaulation any emplyer would want to read.

  14. Richard Inman #
    14

    I found this site in a search I did to see if WGU had an HRC score. I’m not happy about the president promoting anti-LGBT issues, but that’s for another day. I feel compelled to address multiple issues with your obviously bias post.
    But first, I’ll play advocate. WGU is clearly a business, and is run as one. I don’t like how they brag about “news” pieces on the school that are obviously paid for, and then the comment boards are infested with school affiliated individuals. I asked once if the article was paid for, and it was confirmed. The next time it happened, my post was deleted. But on to your comments, which lack real research, and therefore understanding.
    1.)”Washington’s community colleges already offer online education and do so at a tuition that is one half of the cost at WGU.”- Clearly, as community colleges typically are 2-year schools, and cheaper as a statistic, it would make sense that WGU is more expensive. (But still cheaper than Western Washington University.)
    2.) “Dr. Mendenhall’s claim that WGU offers credit for competency is also bogus. All universities that I know of, give credit for work experience by offering students opportunities to take tests of their competence and by placing students at levels consistent with their existing abilities.” This is exactly what the school does. As you know, every school reserves the individual right to either accept or deny transfer credits. If your credits are denied, you can take the test for that course, get credit, and move on. And since you are charged per term, rather than per credit, you can take all the courses/tests you need in that time frame and not pay one cent more.
    3.)”Who are the faculty?” So/so on this one. I have personally never really needed a mentor. However, in browsing the course message boards, I have seen the work of some, and while some seem pretty useless, I have seen others that you would think with the way they taught (webinars and such), they were at a prestigious university living out their dreams. I have never seen anyone’s framed degree, but like I said, I don’t need them. I did my research well before I started this program and knew what I was getting into. I assumed I would have the resources and be set free to teach myself the material, and that has basically been the case. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I am learning the material.
    4.)”Are WGU degrees well recognized?” Define “well recognized.” By other schools? Schools in Washington or schools nationwide? I guess that depends on how you look at it. Is a Northwestern University degree more “recognized” than a Western Washington University degree?
    5.) “While WGU brags that it is accredited, that is deceptive. The group that issues regional accreditation covers everything from the UW to trade schools. Even beauty schools are accredited.” And even Western Washington University. Point taken? And the schools you list are more likely to be accredited nationally, rather than regionally. It is also accredited by CNURED. It is these agency’s job, that are officially recognized by the US Secretary of Education, to ensure the quality and integrity of their programs.
    6.) “Do graduates get jobs?” Again, this depends on who you ask. Some employers will already have a bias when they find out you went to school online. Some will actually know how much HARDER online classes are, and the determination and self discipline it takes to succeed. Why is listening to a lecture in a class and then taking a test so much better than listening to one on the web and then taking a test? In a lot of areas, it is the same material. And just as clarification, my roommate is currently attending Northwestern, and when I showed him the Math course I was taking, he said it goes so much deeper than what he had to take. He graduates in 9 days, so it’s still pretty fresh in his mind. As far as the Microsoft colleague’s response, like someone else said, they don’t have a course for an engineer. And let’s be honest, a lot of what we do is based on experience. The little piece of paper we get at the end is just an extra push of our resume to the top of the pile. In response to being able to take IT certifications in high school, you can also take some college courses in high school, and a lot of what you learn in your first years is rehashed review anyway. Also, our certifications count as a course completion, and the cost is included in tuition. Who else does that? And who looks more marketable? A new graduate with a degree and experience, or a new graduate with no experience, but 10 fresh certifications, including CIW, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and CompTIA?
    As far as the teaching certificates, if they didn’t meet “Washington State standards”, then they wouldn’t be accepted. I think this goes without saying. Your state officially uses the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification to facilitate state certification transfers with any other member school, such as WGU. However, they don’t even really use the policy. Washington Reciprocity rules allow them to accept any certificate from another state recognized program.
    I’m getting tired now, so I’ll close with this. Am I a WGU fanatic? Seems like it, but I am not. I did my research, knew what I was getting into and am looking forward to my future prospects. It is unfair of you to so harshly and prejudicially criticize, and what I feel is negate, what some of us are trying to do with, at best, shoddy research.

  15. admin #
    15

    I am on the raodso will not be able to say much.

    1. Mendenhall and LBGT issues … none of my concerns. Are you a flack for WGU? I have seen posts about this but my only concern is with WGU’s apparently false claims to be offering a real educations as opposed to a fast routew to a diploma.

    2. I am not sure what in mr “research” you would like to challenge. All I have done is based on the VERY limyyed access WGU gives to its own data. Inn fact WGUY secrecy is one of my major concerns. As one example, WGU is, as the y claium, accredited. BUT .. unlike most creicble schyoolsw, WGU does not make its accreditation application public. As a result I and others suspect they may have made false claimjs.

    3. WA teachers …WGU grads will be qualified in UTAH. T%hay will NOT meet WA state standards, BUT we have reciprocity so .. nutil someone realizes these people do not meet oUR standards, they may sneak through

    Finally, if you are not just one more WGU falck and actually are a student, let me invite you tobe a contributor. I wouldm loive to see an hinset inside point of view.

  16. CS #
    16

    “I have had the WGU Bachelors and masters curricula looked at by two experts. Neither one can figure out what jobs this wouild qualify a student for. can you help?”

    All of their B.S. IT program graduates have the same certifications (vendor’s vary) that any other IT job applicant would be expected to have, and in most cases probably more since the testing is part of the tuition. In most IT jobs, certs get you an interview, the 2nd interview is the one where experience will show or not. This process is the same whether someone goes to WGU or any other school. I’ve been working in IT (software support/testing/SQL development) for 10 years and I got lucky. If id had any of the certifications WGU offers as part of their tuition upon my graduation from a traditional school (Doane College, Nebraska) I would have had a much better showing during interviews, and a much better salary at my current employers when I started. As it is now, I have all kinds of experience, and still no certs (yet) and despite my specialization I barely qualify for most help desk jobs, according to HR people-and I have a prior service security clearance and 10 years at varying levels of hardware and software support.

    As it was, I was paying 12,000 a year at Doane for a traditional liberal arts curriculum wrapped with Information Systems Management and an emphasis in systems analysis and a fixed 4 year schedule-but the testing would have cost me extra out of my own pocket had I wanted vendor certifications. Even the irrelevant ones like A+, which is requested in most IT job listings but is pretty much worthless still costs 173.00, and without it you won’t get an interview even for entry level support jobs. Network + is 246.00 and Security + is 266.00-per retake, and these three exams seem to form the bedrock of the most entry level IT job, both private and government. So, if I am to pay 12,000 a year, id rather get those (and others) as part of my curriculum with up to 3 re-takes each, than have to come up with more money out of pocket just to get in a door guarded by some HR drone.

  17. Ross Harvey #
    17

    I’m currently a WGU student and have attended UC and two other schools. As I work full-time, with a commute, my current educational options are quite limited. I’m glad WGU is leading the way with online education.

    Associate Professor Neem’s flaming of WGU is unprofessional.

    The excess of spin clearly reveals a bias and the childish presentation is deceptive. WGU is not a scam and its tuition is easily worth twice the rate of a community college that does not offer a bachelor’s degree and doesn’t offer nearly the equivalent of WGU’s program.

    Why does Prof. Neem not actually mention WGU’s supposedly excessive tuition?

    Perhaps because it’s only $2,995 for a six month term? And if one is willing to take a heavier course load, there is no extra charge. I challenge Prof. Rheems to name another school with a regionally accredited 4-year online I.T. degree. Should he find even one, then what, exactly, does it cost?

    Yes, the graduation rate is low. I suspect it’s even lower than 20%. But this is because the students must actually demonstrate competency. If you don’t pass at a B level at WGU you are out. Fail a test four times and you are out. The exams in my I.T. programs are given largely by unforgiving third parties. The ultimate quality standard is the educational achievement of the graduates, not the experiences of the failures.

    The other flaw in the flame is this: brick-and-mortar colleges look even worse when compared on an equal basis. In most places, today’s college degree equals yesterday’s high school education. On this subject entire books have been written and I presumably need offer no proof here.

  18. Mark #
    18

    This stupid little twirp JOHANN is just worried that he’s going to be out of a job teaching absolute nonsense. B&M is great for the 18 year old moron who has mommy and daddy paying his or hers tuition and living expenses, not the average adult working stiff who needs has a family to support. Your argument is baseless, get your facts straight you idioot JOHANN

  19. theaveeditor #
    19

    Do you mean Bricks and Mortar, Bill and Merlinda, or what?

    What “nonsense” do you think Johan teaches? Something you don’t know?

  20. Sam #
    20

    I find it interesting that the author has written such an inflammatory piece. So much of what is said is related to how there are no credentials of WGU’s evaluators and course mentors. Did he request information from the school? Good Journalists usually indicate that they made a direct request to ___ on ____ and the request had been ignored as of print date. A quick search of the WGU website’s available jobs, reveals that the University requires a minimum of a Masters degree in that field, and most often a PhD or EdD for its positions as course mentors and graders. These positions are equivalent to instructor positions at other schools. In addition to the educational requirements, the course mentors and evaluators are required to have at least three years experience in the field.
    The comment regarding the graders is almost laughable. How often do traditional university instructors use students to grade papers?

    Just an observation, but with an article about being able to write listed above, perhaps the writer of the piece should edit his comments so that they are at least legible.

  21. The Commentator #
    21

    Johann Neem has a monkey face if you look closely. He’s just upset that student enrollment in his History class is down.

  22. theaveeditor #
    22

    Do you take pride in being a racist?

  23. backtoschoolmom #
    23

    I currently am a student at WGU in the post bacc teaching cert program. I have a bachelors and masters from a bricks and motar university. All the courses I needed for the program transferred to WGU. I did have to take 2 history and English courses that I did not have in my bs and ms degrees at a b&m before I could be accepted. My masters is in education but I decided to not do student teaching and graduate. Let me first say this program has offered me more experience in preparing for student teaching than my university did. If I had this experience there I might had followed through. I have had just as much if not more interaction with my mentor as I did with my grad advisor. The work that I am doing is the same as what my supervising teacher had to do for her teaching program at a university level. I have access to community blogs to talk to other students. The course mentors are efficient at getting back to you when you need help. Yes when I graduate my certification will be in Utah but I knew that, my state offers reciprocity and I just have to apply for transfer of certification with my state. WGU makes sure you take all the required state praxis and pedagogy tests needed for that transfer. Overall I’ve learned just as much if not more as I would have at a b&m university. As for the degree and cert recognition, I cannot answer until I start applying for jobs.

  24. Kate #
    24

    I don’t even know where to start. Lets first start with the faculty that you mention numerous times in your attack on WGU. WGU hires course mentors that serve as faculty. Every mentor I have met has a Masters degree or higher in their field. In order to be a mentor with WGU they must have a Masters or higher. A large number I have worked with have a PHD.

    Next evaluation. All tasks are evaluated by task stream. These people are hired by WGU and must have a Masters in the field they are evaluating as well as at least 3 years working in the field.

    As far as the competency based education.Yes you have “tasks” and assessments that must be completed to prove competency. This is no different than taking a 16 week course at a brick and mortar school where you have assigned homework and a final at the end of the class. The difference is you can work at your own pace as opposed to the pace of the professor. WGU classes have e-books, webinars, quizzes, assignments, and finals. Instead of sitting through a class for 16 weeks students can work as slow or as fast as they want.

    If you look at the WGU website and look at the Employment at WGU link it tells you the requirements for employment for each position.

    Link for Faculty explanation
    http://www.wgu.edu/about_WGU/wgu_faculty

    Link for Regional Accreditation
    http://www.nwccu.org/Directory%20of%20Inst/State%20Map/Utah/Utah.htm

    Link for CCNE Accreditation
    http://directory.ccnecommunity.org/reports/rptAccreditedPrograms_New.asp?state=UT&sFullName=Utah

    Link on WGU website about accreditation
    http://www.wgu.edu/about_WGU/accreditation

    Simple research would prevent false allegations.

  25. theaveeditor #
    25

    The sad thing about this thread is that the issues remain unchanged.

    WGU continues to operate without financial oversight, with coaches whoese job is to help students pass exams and with out showing that a WGU degree …m even if it is completed .. advances students in getting jobs.

  26. knittern #
    26

    I am not sure about the other programs at WGU. I can only speak to the RN-MSN programs. All the student mentors–the ones not teaching classes have MSN’s. The ones teaching the classes or Course Mentors, have terminal degrees, with an occasional MSN. I get a lot of support–if I ask for it, it is a very independent education option. As far as the accreditation, with the nursing, it is exactly what I need to continue on with my DNP afterwards and get employed at a federal agency or teaching institution. I can say that at the local tech school/community college they have instructors with their degree’s from WGU, so yes, the graduates are getting jobs:-) and even teaching the next generation! Again, this is all in nursing, not sure how other area’s compare.

  27. theaveeditor #
    27

    Thanks for the post!

    The RN program is interesting. Am I correct that this program is a a way for people with Rns to get their BS in nursing?

    I think this reflects a confusing anomaly in nursing training. The public thinks of the RN as a terminal professional degree … in a sense like a law degree or an MD. That is correct, the RN is a qualification to work as a nurse. However, our society requires a BS for many nursing jobs .. esp. supervisory jobs, administrative jobs. So the WGU program is a supplement so that RNs can gat a credential rather than anything that requires an increase in their knowledge of medicine or patient care?

    My guess is that the RNs who add this credential to their degrees (I would argue that there real degree is the RN!) are very good Rns who are fulfilling a formal requirement in legal issues and administrative rules rather than the science underlying their profession. ?

    No?


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