One milestone in the infographic notes one particular for-profit institution, Jones International University (JIU), as the first accredited online university; offering degrees primarily in business and education. Although, JIU was a small and not very well-known university, its accreditation was met with criticism and fostered much debate regarding the sanctity and overall mission of higher education outside of traditional brick and mortar institutions.
If you visit the homepage of JIU today, you’ll be greeted by a dialog box which states the university is now closed and all student information has been turned over to the Colorado Department of Higher Education. So, what happened here? If we proceed a little further into the site, we learn that JIU was a fully functioning university from 1999 through February 2016. Located at the time in Centennial, Colorado, the school was forced to shut down following a 55% drop in enrollment during the period between 2011 and the end of 2014. Another factor which contributed to its demise was increased competition from traditional four-year colleges entering the online education market.
As expected, the website for JIU is no longer active, but what did it look like before the university shuttered its virtual doors and windows? When we check the Internet Archive, we find there isn’t much historical content available prior to 2005.
As we delve further into the university's history, we take a deeper look at one of those early days in 2008 when the web site was crawled numerous times. Here’s what the site looked like on July 31, 2008. We see richer graphics in the design and there’s a section for online classes and even a self-assessment which evaluates a student's capacity for online learning.
And, finally we see the notice to students of the impending closure which was first archived on November 24, 2015. Students with a year or less left were “able to complete their courses and graduate from JIU.” The remainder of the student body was given the option to transfer to other institutions which offered many of the same courses.
- Crotty, James Marshal. Distance Learning Has Been Around Since 1892, You Big MOOC. Forbes. 14 Nov. 2012.
- Chuang, Tamara. First accredited online school, Jones University, to shutter in 2016. The Denver Post. 02 Apr. 2015.
- Ogden, Joslyn. Cyber U: The Accreditation of Jones International University. The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. n.d.
-- Corren McCoy