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Online degree programs are continuing to grow in popularity with the help of open-minded employers who recognize their worth as credible sources of education and training. Wholly online universities that cater to the busy schedules of working adults with professional or family commitments are also becoming commonplace.

To stay competitive, more brick-and-mortar institutions are increasing their online course offerings or adding electronic aspects to classroom-based curricula.

Online Education

As a result, distance education companies and schools alike are collaborating with one another to instill regulations to foster and preserve the opportunities offered by online learning.

Earlier this month, Excelsior College used a ,500 grant it received from the Lumina Foundation for Education to convene a session of the President's Forum, a collaboration of distance education proponents from across the country. The council, which includes college presidents, campus leaders, more than 150 colleges, organizations and policymakers met in Washington DC to discuss options for multi-state regulation of distance learning and online degree programs.

John F. Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, said the conference was called to address "an increase in concern for protecting the public interest from illegitimate programs" and foster "the growth of online learning" through accredited schools.

The Sloan Consortium, an organization that aims to integrate online education initiatives into the mainstream of higher education, has also announced it will hold a conference intended to improve communication between online course providers and promoters.

The Sloan-C International Conference on Learning, which was held between October 23 and 28 in Orlando, featured programs and speeches on the latest trends, research, technology and practices in partially or completely online coursework.

Craig Pines, CEO and president of Deltak - an online learning consulting company that will present at the conference - said the event provides "a wonderful opportunity to meet faculty and administrators" and show them how online education can "help their institution[s] achieve a high return with minimal financial investment."

Researchers, educational administrators, instructors, faculty developers, librarians and students from the higher and secondary education, business, government, healthcare, and nonprofit sectors were all expected to attend.

Such efforts to improve the quality of online education and improve communication between schools, lawmakers, companies and students may ensure online degree programs offer working adults convenient and credible means to enhance their qualifications.

Companies, Colleges Hold Conferences to Improve Online Education