What Makes an Online Class "Real" to Students?

The for-profit online school industry has received a great deal of attention over the past few years and the reasons have involved recruiting practices, low retention rates, and the failure to pay student loan rates. Recently there was an article about one online school that was being audited, specifically regarding the level of faculty to student interactions.

This particular school offers competency-based online degree programs and students are completing their degrees without being enrolled in traditional online classes. The underlying reason for the audit is related to the programs being qualified to receive federal aid. In order for students to be eligible to receive federal aid there must be "significant instructor to student interactions" and if those interactions aren't present the programs become ineligible for aid.

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