January 23, 2008
OEDb's Online College Rankings 2008
OEDb has just published its second Annual Online College Rankings. Data was gathered for eight different metrics — acceptance rate, financial aid, graduation rate, peer Web citations, retention rate, scholarly citations, student-faculty ratio, and years accredited. The top five schools are:
- Upper Iowa University
- LeTourneau University
- Liberty University
- Nova Southeastern University
- California University of Pennsylvania
Ah, the only school I ever heard of before reading this ranking was Nova, a school I would expect to see highly ranked. It would be interesting if OEDb followed up this survey with detailed profiles of the top five (or ten) schools.
Some Questions. I'm not real sure about some of the metrics used for this ranking.
Years of Accreditation, why? OEDb explains on its Methodology page, "we looked at how long it had maintained its accreditation status, since a longer period of accreditation implies more name recognition and prestige, as well as the continual competence of the college's administration." Perhaps all those reasons are true but I do not believe they are relevant. If Harvard jumps into the online college game, it would automatically be ranked first. A better metric might be how long the institutions have been offering more than x-number of eCourses.
The Peer Web Citations is interesting. Using Yahoo! Search's linkdomain:example.edu site:.edu -site:example.edu backlink command, OEDb determined how many times a particular college's website is linked to by other college's websites but I'm not sure what this tells us. Is it really "a proxy for a college's relative status among other colleges?"
The Scholarly Citations metric is seriously flawed. OEDb used Google Scholar instead of readily available humanities, social science and physical science citation indexes. Google Scholar simply isn't a comprehensive enough source to produce a reliable indicator of the quantity, quality and importance of faculty published research. From what I can tell, no date restrictions were used so there is a clear bias towards older schools. (I doubt it is necessary to count 25-50-100 year old citations in the context of ranking colleges that offer online courses.)
OEDb writes (and I agree): "while this methodology may be imperfect, as is any methodology of this nature, we do want to stress that at the very least it is quantitative and objective, relying solely on hard data as opposed to subjective interpretation." Hopefully, future rankings will eliminate the Years of Accreditation metric and find an alternative for Google Scholar. [JH]
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I think graduated students who go on to find a job for their career should be a number in the metric as well. Great information though, I didn't even know they were ranking online colleges.
Posted by: Adam's Online Degrees | Aug 12, 2008 7:29:27 AM