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First Congressional E-Learning Caucus Briefing

Yesterday, the Congressional E-Learning Caucus, chaired by Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Jared Polis (D-CO), held its first briefing for U.S. House of Representatives members and staff. Rep. Polis opened the meeting by reviewing the Caucus’s two primary goals—raising awareness in Congress about the nature and value of e-learning across the educational spectrum, and encouraging public policy that supports the development of e-learning to provide increased access to high-quality learning opportunities. He then introduced the panel convened to illustrate the range of e-learning across educational and economic sectors:

State Authorization in a Post-Appeals Court World

Since a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling vacating the U.S. Department of Education’s regulation on state authorization in relation to distance learning, views on what that means and what comes next have varied widely. Today’s Campus conducted a video interview on these issues with David LeFevre, “an expert in regulatory compliance and risk management for postsecondary institutions” with the law firm of Dunn and Davison.

APLU/SHEEO Commission on Distance Ed. Regulation: Preliminary Directions and Timeline

The APLU/SHEEO Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education that the two organizations announced a few weeks ago held its first meeting last week in Washington, DC. Though not represented on the commission, EDUCAUSE and WCET have good relations with various participants in the process. The results of our conversations with those participants follow.

Overturning of state authorization reg. upheld on appeal

Russ Poulin at WCET reported late yesterday that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the federal district court ruling that overturned the U.S. Department of Education's state authorization regulation in relation to distance education (http://wcetblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/state-authorization-appeal/). The appeals court found that the district court had ruled correctly--the department had not followed appropriate rule-making procedures in issuing the regulation, and thus the regulation should be blocked.

EDUCAUSE Comments: Financial Aid Fraud and Identity Verification

EDUCAUSE submitted comments last week in response to a U.S. Department of Education (ED) notice about ED’s intent to hold a negotiated rule-making process later this year on financial aid fraud in online/distance learning programs. We focused on the potential of InCommon and its joint effort with the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC), a project called CommIT, to address the student identity verification concerns at the heart of the problem. How might CommIT serve in this capacity? Read on…

State Authorization Fallout Continues: New Natl. Commission on Distance Ed. Reg.

The repercussions of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations extending state authorization requirements to online/distance learning continue with this week’s launch by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) of a new national commission to study the problems of online/distance education regulation led by former U.S. Secretary of Education and Governor of South Carolina, Richard Riley.

SLDS Privacy/Security Resources - Privacy Technical Assistance Center

As states expand efforts to link K-12, postsecondary, and workforce data via state longitudinal data systems (SLDSs), it is important to understand the privacy and security challenges surrounding SLDSs. How the privacy and security approaches of those systems and non-higher education sectors relate to those of higher education (as developed collaboratively through groups such as the Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC)) is equally relevant. One can get a sense of both by reviewing the resources and information provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

FERPA Resources and Compliance--Family Policy Compliance Office

The U.S. Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) oversees instituitonal compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In addition to fielding parent or student complaints about violations of the law and its implementing regulations, FPCO offers a number of resources for institutions, students, and parents to help them understand their respective rights and responsibilities under FERPA. Most recently, FPCO has conducted a series of webinars to provide college and university personnel with a better understanding of the law and how it applies to student records management and data-sharing:

Draft St. Authorization Reciprocity Agreement Ready for Input

Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), has announced that a draft State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is ready for public review and feedback. As a member of the drafting team working in a process organized by The Presidents' Forum and the Council of State Governments, Poulin has provided a great summary of the agreement's key provisions and requested that interested members of the higher education community, particularly those engaged in the development and delivery of e-learning, review the draft in full and submit ideas and recommendations for the drafting team to consider. Once the draft is finalized, the Council of State Governments will submit it to state legislatures for consideration and adoption.

House Homeland Security Subcmte. Hearing on Cyber Attacks

The Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management of the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing this afternoon entitled "America is Under Cyber Attack: Why Urgent Action is Needed" to highlight the extent of existing cyber threats to the nation and their impact, as well as the dangers of such threats expanding dramatically without a coherent national strategy. (Note that the hyperlink in the hearing title provides access to the archived video of the hearing as well as the written testimony of the witnesses and the opening statement of the subcommittee chair.)