It Appears The Die Is Cast

The end result of negotiated rulemaking affecting online learning is becoming clear

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Earlier this year I wrote about how online learning was going to be an increasing focus of regulation by the Department of Education (ED) driven by the agenda of activist groups. Not just as a side effect in regulating for-profit institutions and OPMs, but as the target itself. We are seeing the clearest signs of the form that agenda will take in the negotiated rulemaking process currently underway.

We will cover the targeting of Inclusive Access models in separate coverage.

Recap of the argument

Back in January I wrote that what we have seen up until now, focused mostly on OPMs and Gainful Employment/Financial Value Transparency, was a precursor to more stringent rules about online learning itself.

I don’t for a minute think online learning is going to go away. That would be like trying to ban the motor car after the invention of the internal combustion engine. But I do worry that ED will use this research and this public handwringing to put forward new regulations around online learning that stifle innovation and reduce access while not addressing the underlying areas for improvement.

This week we are getting more details with the ED’s release of its proposed regulatory changes and additions for the negotiations on “Program Integrity and Institutional Quality.” We have had two weeks of negotiations, and between sessions ED releases proposed changes based on the discussions, so that the next session will debate that language.

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