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While the fact that more and more colleges are taking the leap online is generally a good sign, there has been a noticeable increase in not-so-reputable organizations claiming to offer degree plans and diplomas without having any actual educational authority to do so. However, the Illinois Board of Higher Education has caught on to this and has since implemented several initiatives such as the Illinois Online Network to ensure that people only enroll in legitimate online schools in Illinois. This goal is also reflected in other movements made throughout the state.

Higher Learning Initiatives

Blended Learning

Offered through the University of Illinois-Chicago, this program of Blended Learning started in 2008 as a way to give students more flexible education options they could rely on. Sure, there was and still is no shortage of online degree programs available, but half of those were not even from accredited organizations. Plus, this was a great option for the student interested in online education but wasn’t yet ready to give up face-to-face instruction. As of Fall 2010, there were 40 blended courses available.

Illinois Virtual Campus

Another statewide initiative that seeks to connect potential students with reputable online schools in Illinois is the Illinois Virtual Campus. Started in 1999, not long after the Illinois Online Network, this organization sought to counteract the rapid progression of diploma mills. It holds any and all of its participating organizations to very high standards to ensure that students get only the best online education possible. Containing an easy-to-use search engine, visitors to the site can quickly find what they are looking for to meet their specific education needs.

Illinois Online Network

First created in 1997 when there were just a handful of online courses to choose from, the Illinois Online Network was originally just a collaboration of 10 community colleges seeking to join forces when it came to the world of distance learning. Today, the entity has more than 40 participating institutions and works with roughly 2,000 faculty members to provide current and prospective students with the most up-to-date, thorough information in their selected fields. Some degrees offered through this network can be obtained completely via online education, perfectly illustrating the pervasive impact of the trend.

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