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As mentioned in the Quality Assurance post today, the big educational institutions in the US are charged with defining and improving the “systems” of learning widely promulgated by same. For decades there have been strong and articulate voices calling for this “system” to be reformed. Many might say to little avail, given the enormity of the challenge for innovating learning systems in today’s mobile age.

For a glimpse of what change looks like at the US Dept of Education, here’s a Federal Register document which is “Notice Inviting Postsecondary Educational Institutions To Participate in Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative.

This notice contains this lengthy sentence below, which seems to sort of support the “non traditional providers”, providing they are in a partnership with a traditional institution, and providing they aren’t taking on too many risks. Which could be interpreted as participating institutions trying to control the non traditional providers more than trying to foment and support dynamic innovation.

The Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment is intended to encourage increased innovation in higher education through partnerships between the participating institutions and non-traditional providers in order to learn whether those partnerships increase access to innovative and effective educational programs, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds;


assess quality assurance processes appropriate for non-traditional providers and programs; and identify ways to protect students and taxpayers from risk in this emerging area of post-secondary education.

Here’s a PDF of the entire webpage if a closer reading is of interest. One would hope that this turns out to be better than what appears to be: mostly a way to define certain innovating “non traditiona providersl” as outside of the federal financial programs.

Certainly there are some non traditional providers who are major abusers of federal educational support, but one might hope that could be addressed by other means than eliminating risks and innovation in the name of improving the “system”.

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