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Traditional higher education accreditation faces challenges in assessing the quality of emerging educational providers that offer new credential types like nanodegrees and microcredentials. Coding academies in particular offer short, intensive, skills-focused programs to teach software development outside the traditional degree framework. Meanwhile, universities and colleges are also experimenting with microcredentials to demonstrate mastery of specific skills or competencies.

For accreditors to properly evaluate these new models, they will need to broaden their standards and review processes. Where accreditation traditionally focused on evaluating institutions based on inputs like facilities and faculty credentials, it will now also need to consider competency-based outputs and student outcomes. Accreditors can draw lessons from the coding academy model that emphasizes demonstrating career readiness over credit hours or degree attainment.

A key first step for accreditors is to establish consistent definitions for terms like microcredentials and alternative providers. Without consensus on what these represent, it becomes difficult to regulate quality. Accreditors should convene stakeholders from traditional and non-traditional education to define domains, credential types, and expected learning outcomes. Common terminology is crucial to building acceptance of new credentials in the labor market and by employers.

Once definitions are clarified, accreditors must adapt their evaluation criteria. Historically, accreditation centered on traditional measures like curriculum design, faculty qualifications, library resources, and physical infrastructure. For non-degree programs, alternative inputs may be more relevant like training methodology, learning materials, placement rates, industry partnerships, and learner feedback. Accreditors need review standards that recognize the instructional design behind competency-based and experiential models not centered around courses or credit hours.

Accreditors also need processes flexible enough to evaluate providers delivering education in non-traditional ways. Coding academies for example may operate entirely online, offer training in flexible modules, and focus more on portfolio demonstration than exams or assignments. Assessment of learning outcomes and career readiness becomes particularly important for these models versus traditional measures of institutional resources. Accreditors will benefit from piloting new evaluation approaches tailored for competency-based and skills-focused credentials.

Extending accreditation to alternative providers protects learners and helps build the credibility of new credential types. The compliance burden of accreditation could discourage innovative models if requirements are not appropriately tailored. Accreditors might consider multiple tiers or categories of recognition accounting for differences in providers like size, funding model, degree of government recognition sought. They could develop fast-track or preliminary approval processes to help new programs demonstrate quality without discouraging experimentation.

Accreditors play a crucial role in raising standards across higher education and validating the value of credentials for students, employers and society. As new education models emerge, accreditation must thoughtfully adapt its processes and criteria to maintain this important oversight and quality assurance function, while still cultivating promising innovations. With care and stakeholder input, accreditors can extend their purview in a way that both protects learners and encourages continued growth of alternative pathways increasingly demanded in today’s changing job market.

For accreditation to properly evaluate emerging education models like coding academies and microcredentials, it needs to broaden its quality standards beyond traditional inputs to also consider competency-based outputs and student outcomes. Key steps include establishing common definitions, adapting evaluation criteria, piloting flexible assessment approaches, and ensuring requirements do not discourage needed innovation while still extending important consumer protections for alternative providers and credential types. Done right, accreditation can promote high-quality options outside traditional degrees in service of lifelong learning.


Licensing is a critical consideration when developing OER. Selecting an open license, such as Creative Commons, allows others to legally reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the content. This enables sharing and collaboration on the material. The license also needs to ensure proper attribution is always given to the original creator(s). Picking the right Creative Commons license, whether CC BY, CC BY-SA, or another option, depends on how much control and flexibility is desired over subsequent uses and adaptations of the content.

Quality assurance is also crucial for OER. With many potential contributors participating in open collaboration on teaching materials, there needs to be processes to review and approve changes to safeguard academic integrity and accuracy. This includes peer reviews of content by subject matter experts. Comprehensive version control systems are important to trace edits made over time as work evolves. Quality OER projects typically involve instructional designers to help with scope, organization, learning objectives alignment, and overall educational approach.

Accessibility must be taken into account from the start. OER should be designed and authored to be usable by people with varying abilities, including those using assistive technologies like screen readers. This involves following web accessibility standards and guidelines like WCAG. Visual elements must have textual descriptions, content is organized logically for navigation, and multimedia includes captions. The open licensing also enables the content to be made available in different formats to reach more learners.

Discovering existing relevant OER through open registries and metadata tagging is essential. While new content may need to be created at times, existing open materials should be identified and potentially reused or remixed first to avoid duplicating work already done. Applying educational metadata standards allows OER to be more easily searched and located. Cross-linking related OER fosters open communities of shared knowledge. Interoperability ensures content is structured to interact seamlessly across platforms and systems.

Addressing technical specifications ensures the educational materials remain accessible, current, and sustainable over time. Open file formats prevent vendor lock-in to any single proprietary system. This includes easily editable formats like Markdown for text, open multimedia formats with royalty-free codecs, and structured formats like XML for storing educational metadata. Considering future proofing involves developing in an agile, modular way so content stays up-to-date as technologies and standards evolve. Version control enables ongoing iterative improvements.

Stakeholder involvement is vital during development. Understanding instructor, student, administrator and other user needs guides effective OER design. Piloting draft materials and incorporating feedback improves quality. Building partnerships with educational institutions enables scalable sharing and localized reuse in various contexts and locations. Raising awareness about open licensing and empowering communities to remix or extend resources sustains ongoing efforts. Assessing impact through quantitative metrics and qualitative reports reveals areas for enhancement.

Access and inclusion are key factors. OER help reduce costs as a public good, especially important for reaching demographics that may not otherwise access education. Offering content in multiple languages enhances equity. Consider cultural appropriateness and avoid bias in examples, images, or viewpoints presented. Peer production approaches allow customized local customizations. Sustainability relies on incentivizing continued contributions, whether through credit, compensation, or community affiliation. Technologies should not pose undue barriers in various regions.

These strategies promote developing high-quality, sustainable open educational resources through collaborative open design principles. Attending to licensing, quality, accessibility, discoverability, technical standards, stakeholder engagement, inclusion, and sustainability enables maximizing sharing and impact of openly licensed teaching and learning materials globally. OER have the potential to advance equitable access to knowledge worldwide when developed following these important guidelines.


Start by articulating clear program goals and student learning outcomes. Define what skills, knowledge, and qualifications students should have upon completing the program. Consult national and state standards and frameworks to ensure the program meets requirements. Interview and survey current students, faculty, and local music educators to understand their perspectives and needs from the program.

Design a curriculum map that sequences courses over four years to build students’ skills and knowledge incrementally toward mastery of the learning outcomes. Consider courses in music theory, music history, conducting, applied lessons, ensembles, and educational foundations. Ensure there is a strong focus on both content knowledge in music and pedagogical skills for teaching. Scaffold field experiences like observations and student teaching throughout the program.

Build flexibility into the program to allow for student interests and specializations. Consider concentrations, minors, or electives in areas like band, orchestra, chorus, general elementary, technology in music education, and music therapy. Collaborate across academic departments to leverage other course offerings. Provide academic advising to help students plan multi-year course schedules.

Recruit and retain high-caliber faculty who are active scholars and performers in their field, as well as skilled teachers. Hire sufficient full-time faculty and utilize qualified part-time or adjunct faculty as needed. Offer competitive salaries, professional development support, and career incentives to attract and retain top talent. Foster a collegial atmosphere where faculty can continuously improve their teaching through collaboration, observation, and feedback.

Establish partnerships with local school districts and arrange field experiences and student teaching placements. Work with cooperating teachers and administrators to provide meaningful, supervised opportunities for pre-service teachers to apply their learning in K-12 classrooms. Secure internships, apprenticeships, or service opportunities to give experiences outside of traditional classrooms as well.

Assess program effectiveness through formative and summative measures. Survey students before and after their studies to measure perceived growth. Evaluate key assessments like recitals, student teaching evaluations, and edTPA performance. Analyze placement and retention rates, employer feedback, and alumni surveys. Use assessment data to refine curriculum, identify gaps, strengthen partnerships, and celebrate successes.

Develop necessary performance and rehearsal spaces, instrument storage, teaching studios, and technology to support the program. Equip classrooms, labs, and lesson rooms with tools and software needed for music instruction. Provide an accessible inventory of instruments, equipment, and other materials for on-campus use, practice, and coursework. Maintain resources and continuously invest in upgrading facilities.

Promote the program through a well-designed website, on-campus marketing, mailings, and community engagements. Host recruiting events, information sessions, performances, and camps to raise awareness. Leverage social media platforms popular with current and prospective students. Provide individualized advising and mentorship to shepherd applicants through the admission process. Award scholarships to attract strong candidates.

Regularly evaluate progress toward goals, monitor external factors affecting the field, and be prepared to adapt the program accordingly. Enlist an advisory board including alumni, employers, and professional organization members to provide guidance and stay current with evolving needs. Adjust content, assessments, partnerships, facilities, and recruitment based on continuous review of impact, feedback, and trends. Maintain academic accreditation and professional certification as requirements change over time.

With careful planning, strong administration and support, quality instruction, and ongoing reflection, a music education program following these evidence-informed strategies can prepare graduates well for rewarding careers teaching and inspiring future musicians. Regular maintenance ensures the program effectively meets evolving demands to train the next generation of music educators.