If you offer an online training program, it’s good for your students to earn a certificate of completion. You can create any kind of diploma; however, it won’t have any value if your course is not accredited. This article will give you more information regarding the various types of accreditation, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of getting your course accredited.
Types of accreditation
There are two basic types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized.
Institutional accreditation usually applies to an entire institution. It means that every little part of that institution is contributing to the overall achievements of the organization. Thus, all of the parts guarantee the same quality of services that are offered.
Specialized accreditation applies to the evaluation of programs that are parts of other institutions. The different accredited units may be as large as a university or as small as a single discipline.
Thus, a specialized accrediting agency may function in the capacity of an institutional accrediting agency. In addition, a number of specialized accrediting agencies accredit educational programs within non-educational institutions like hospitals, for example.
Since it is quite easy to create your own online training course, think about what else you can offer your future online students. Let’s start by understanding the mindset of your audience. Here are some initial questions to start from:
- Who are your potential students?
- What do they expect from your virtual classroom?
- Are they upgrading their career?
- Are they students who need extra help with school material?
- Is their goal to just learn something new or do they need a certificate of completion?
- What is the age of your audience?
- What are your own future plans for online training?
Once you have answered all of these questions you can continue reading to consider the different arguments for each option.
Does your virtual classroom training need accreditation?
Accrediting agencies are organizations that establish operating standards for educational programs. They also determine how those standards are met and publicly announce their findings.
In the U.S., legitimate online degree programs are accredited by agencies. They are recognized by either the Department of Education or the non-profit Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Although the differences in accreditation are probably minor, there will be some if you live in another country. Therefore, make sure to explore your local accreditation path.
- Once you are accredited the value of your online training will undoubtedly increase. Moreover, training programs that are acknowledged by universities or other organizations often cost more. In other words, your course will carry more educational weight once it is accredited (and also be worth more money).
- Certificates mean something. They are proof that you offer quality content.
- Accreditation helps online students define the value of an online training.
- Accreditation pushes training programs to improve. Most accrediting agencies require institutions to constantly improve in order to keep their accredited status. Therefore, to stay accredited, courses need to keep their standards high.
- In one word – paperwork, a lot of paperwork. Accreditation is a lengthy process requiring lots of documentation. Ideally, you will have an employee by your side who can help.
- Certificates are great in online courses and can still be offered even if the course is not accredited. Online students will be happy to leave the virtual classroom with a certificate, whether it is from an accredited training or not.
- Accreditation is a continuous effort. Furthermore, accreditation aims to ensure the accountability of programs in order to boost public trust, which must be earned over time. Plus, it is not a one-shot deal.
- Bad accreditation also exists. Some organizations aren’t really affiliated with traditional accreditation policies. Therefore, make sure you follow all of the official rules and avoid shady practices.
If you have decided to go ahead and get your online training accredited, now is the time to create the right contacts. Here are some institutions to check out:
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
Founded in 1918 as a not-for-profit organization, ANSI oversees the creation, promulgation, and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector. ANSI is also actively engaged in accreditation – assessing the competence of organizations determining conformance to standards.
United Kingdom Accreditation Service
UKAS is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. It is independent of government and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the government through the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. UKAS’s expertise and professional status within the world of accreditation are founded on the specialist knowledge of its staff.
International Association for Continuing Education and Training
The International Association for Continuing Education And Training (IACET) developed the original Continuing Education Unit (CEU) and ensures that providers of continuing education and training can prove that they are providing high quality instruction by following the ANSI/IACET Standard for Continuing Education and Training through a rigorous accreditation process.
Association for Talent Development
It offers accredited online courses for instructional design/e-learning development. ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in organizations of all sizes and in all sectors of industry. The Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP ®) and Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) credentials are the only certifications for practitioners in the talent development industry.
Accreditation International (Ai) assures the educational quality of schools and plans for continuous school improvement to increase student learning. Ai standards are based on international research, best practices, and historical accreditation processes. Accreditation International retains the time-honored approach to education accreditation, which requires a Self Study, a Plan for Continuous School Improvement, On-site Evaluations by Peers, and Annual Reports with a Five-Year Cycle of Re-evaluvations.
Partnering with universities is a bit different; however, being acknowledged by some of the biggest organizations is a big step toward it.
To summarize, gaining accreditation for your online training isn’t always necessary. However, it does bring you more value and it may help you distinguish yourself from your competitors.