Commentary Logo
Japan Island disputes in SE Asia    World War III Alarm Anti-Islam video and anti-US sentiment    Skull Say no to brainwashing

       peace and anti-war Israel Iran strike imminent    sanctions as a result of nuclear tests Sanctions on Iran and workarounds    black lightning bolt India's massive blackout

Snapshots of news
Gearheads and mastheads
Home  •  About this site  •  How did we once fight corruption in colonial Hong Kong?
 •  Historical US administrative thoughts  •  USA versus colonial Hong Kong
 •  Anti-corruption review of Nigeria  •  Procurement monitoring in Nigeria
 •  Syndicated news  •  Usman's blog  •  Anti-graft news  •  Socialist news

 Sunday, September 22 2019 5:54am Hongkong Time

SKIP TO     Home

Online and distance-learning degrees from the evaluator's perspective

Raymond Cheng

Photo © Amanda Armstrong

For working adults who are wanting to do or pondering on the possibility of doing an advanced degree from an overseas university via online education or distance learning, I would like to share my suggestions from an evaluator's perspective using the two utility standards, U3 Negotiated Purposes and U5 Relevant Information, specifically, in terms of selection of the program and what students should expect when they complete their degrees. These two utility standards are both published by the U.S. Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (JCSEE) [1].

The JCSEE standards are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and when a standard is approved by ANSI, it becomes American National Standards that is also accepted and used worldwide. In short, academic programs that follow the JCSEE evaluation utility standards means stakeholders in that particular program should find and eventually gain more value from their study and hence, in this case, a more useful academic degree (although the JCSEE utility standards may be applied to various other programs, and is not even necessarily academic in nature).

I shall choose two of these standards in the following discussion.

According to the JCSEE program evaluation standards (Yarbrough et al, 2011), "U3 Negotiated Purposes" suggests that "Evaluation purposes should be identified and continually negotiated based on the needs of stakeholders" whereas for "U5 Relevant Information", it says (ibid) that "Evaluation information should serve the identified and emergent needs of stakeholders."

For the working adult, who is both a stakeholder of the program and the final recipient of the degree, these two JCSEE standards conveniently translate into the idea that (i) the desirable, if not perfect, overseas degree program(s) should be designed and continuously improved to cater for the changing needs of the students (as well as the various parties, e.g. the industry who might be hiring the graduates, the related professional bodies etc.) in the much broader, international sense, and that (ii) the most up-to-date, accurate information regarding the degree content, suitability, scope of readings, its learning objectives, its utility, comparability, and local equivalency should all be identified on a global perspective, carefully studied and scrutinized before any claims about local recognition of the program can be made for the students.

In fact, while the perception of standards do change over time and that it was the original idea of the JCSEE to maintain rules of standards that would not only meet the tumultuous needs of the stakeholders but also to stand the test of time (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2011; Stufflebeam & Shinkfield, 2007), a program that does not following the utility standards in its preparations could easily steer away from its original focus and hence lead to unwanted results for the stakeholders – including both the program operator as well as the students. But following the standards strictly does not guarantee success either, particularly when there are cultural differences that may not have been addressed by the American standards (Hopson, 2001; Chatterji, 2005). Furthermore, there has also been warning concerning the "misapplication" (Stufflebeam, 2004, p.101) of these standards outside the American context.

So, what does all this tell us? If you are going to enroll in an overseas program that is delivered via online or distance learning, make sure you are going to one that makes constant improvement. Those that have not been updated for an extended period of time could turn out to be very lousy ones. Go to one that not only improves in terms of program structure but those that are constantly rolling out new options, new cognate subjects, new specialities, or even new programs. They may not be Ivy Leagues but at least you will be able to graduate from a respectable program that is useful in the current sense. In addition, make sure you know what the degree means to you. Either you are perfectly sure how you would be able to benefit from the program or you know clearly the utility of the final award in your area or sphere (i.e. both residential and professional), or else, make sure you have checked that the program is not just accredited in the university's own country but also one that can be evaluated in your own country as well – unless you have decided not to evaluate it – but don't take it for granted that it will evaluate as there are numerous reasons, be it political or not, behind the issue of evaluation and not every academic award from every country, no matter how legitimate it is, bears an academic equivalency in your country. For example, a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma (which students receive before completing their master's thesis under the British education system) is, in most cases, not evaluated under the American system. Alternatively, the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS), which is usually awarded after completing some 36 to 45 graduate level credits after the master's degree under the American system, has little value in the British world. Likewise, online education is generally not evaluated in China, unless it is accompanied by proper proof of entry and exit on the students' passport – which means there are not a lot of very valid reasons in earning your degree online if you are residing in and wish to work using that degree within China.

September 25, 2013


Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA, is the founder and chief editor of He is an adjunct professor in international business and in marketing, an independent policy analyst as well as a language and cultural briefing consultant.

Email Raymond at raymond {dot} cheng {at} kellogg {dot} oxon {dot} org

SKIP TO     Home

Note 1: JCSEE, Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation, USA, see


  • Chatterji, M. (2005). Applying the Joint Committee's 1994 standards in international contexts: A case study of education evaluations in Bangladesh. Teachers College Record, 107 (10), 2372-2400.
  • Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J.R., & Worthen, B. R. (2011). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
  • Hopson, R. (2001). Global and local conversations on culture, diversity, and social justice in evaluation: Issues to consider in a 9/11 era. American Journal of Evaluation, 22, 381-386.
  • Stufflebeam, D. L. (2004). A note on the purposes, development, and applicability of the Joint Committee Evaluation Standards. American Journal of Evaluation, 25(1), 99-102
  • Stufflebeam, D. L., & Shinkfield, A. J. (2007). Evaluation theory, models, and applications. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Yarbrough, D. B., Shulha, L. M., Hopson, R. K., & Caruthers, F. A. (2011). The program evaluation standards (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Commentary and reflection pages by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA

  Main • Commentary   Special Foci • Syndicated News | Corruption | Socialism | GuanXi

  Health Related • Traditional Chinese Medicine   Others • OXLL

© 1997-2018 The Commentary by Office of Dr Raymond Cheng. All rights reserved. Copyright of selected news articles, the headlines and logos belongs to the respective entities. Read disclaimer

Digital platform powered by Wyith Limited, Wyith Institute. Wyith Limited and Wyith Institute are associated businesses operated by the Office of Dr Raymond Cheng • Dr Raymond Cheng & Partners Ltd and The Commentary Ltd.

Home  •  About this site  •  How did we once fight corruption in colonial Hong Kong?
 •  Historical US administrative thoughts  •  USA versus colonial Hong Kong
 •  Anti-corruption review of Nigeria  •  Procurement monitoring in Nigeria
 •  Syndicated news  •  Usman's blog  •  Anti-graft news  •  Socialist news

Contact the editor at raymond {dot} cheng {at} kellogg {dot} oxon {dot} org

The RendezvousBuildersCommentatorsContributorsReadersResearchers
Reflection Pages • Miscellaneous Stuff
The difference between instant evaluation and improving recognition – November 20
Freddy Krueger revisited: Politically correct education? – October 23
From the evaluator's perspective: Justified conclusions and decisions – October 8
Online and distance learning degrees – evaluator's perspective – September 25
The moment fake degrees turned recognized and appraised – September 9

Photo credits for top title bar, from left to right: Iza H (Work), Lukasz Gumowski (Blue balls), Marcin Bania (Smiling and naked), Lautaro Gonda (Milan station), Jan Abt (Girl taking a picture), Daniel Tang (Hot switch), Barbara Henry (Moriah reading), Ralf Herrmann (Checkmate II), Marko Roeper (Led #4), Ian Russell (Girl in downtown LA).
Note: Animated GIF graphics and clipart obtained from,,, and Sketches, cartoons and other handdrawings courtesy of Alice-the-Artist.

Special Alert! This is *NOT* the American Jewish Committee's Commentary Magazine! Special notice! This is not the American Jewish Committee's Commentary Magazine nor are we in any way affiliated with them. To visit AJC's magazine, please go to instead, thank you for your attention.
Memo with pin Technical memos for members
Receiving using Gmail | Sending using Gmail
0x800ccc0e | 0x800ccc19 | 0x800ccc79

This site is best viewed with Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, minimum 1024x768 16M color-depth resolution. The Commentary Group and its personnel do not endorse external sites and are not responsible for the content of these websites. All external sites will open in a new browser window.

COUNT ON THE STATISTICS  100% Towels (c) Daniel Chittka
Photo © Daniel Chittka

This new section contains some interesting statistics in bribe and corruption, please check back for more as we pile up our numbers!

It's statistics time!  Using n-gram: kickback, graft, bribe and corruption - Comparison of their historical occurrences from 1810 to 2009 A.D.

  The word guanxi (collocation) and meanings of bribe: Deeply rooted, disgusting, sad endings

Looking for a good book (c) Doug Logan
Photo © Doug Logan
tagged by area of interestBY AREA OF INTEREST
Pragmatics: Politeness trends from the historical perspective of global trade
Computer mediated communications: Social network – Came riding the waves of amazing coincidences
Language acquisition:
A critique on "A corpus driven study of the potential for vocabulary learning through watching movies"

Grammatical analysis: "When a linguist stumbled upon a Buttonwood"
Lexicon and the corpus: "John Sinclair's lexical items – an introduction"
tagged by regionBY REGION • Anything AsiaUS Presence in Asia
ChinaTaiwanHong Kong and MacauJapanKoreaSingaporeMalaysiaPhilippinesPakistanIndiaAfghanistanVietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and MyanmarTimor-Leste and IndonesiaMongoliaNew Zealand and Australia
tagged by topicsBY TOPIC • BiofuelRhino and elephant poachingAmerican movies hit China marketChina Internet censorshipChina's outward FDI opportunitiesGlobal rice yield
Island disputes in Southeast Asia | Senkakus-Diaoyu and historical findings | Dokdo-Takeshima | Spratly, Paracel, Scarborough | Kurils

For those you who don't have time to read all our news excerpts about the Asian island disputes (links above), you may find the following video, "The economic impact of a war between Japan and China", very enlightening.

© Minute MBA: More from

Free Pussy Riot!
Free Pussy Riot!

Photo © Igor Mukhin, retrieved from Wikipedia

"This trial is another example of the Kremlin's attempts to discourage and delegitimize dissent. It is likely to backfire." John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme

 More from Amnesty InternationalFree Pussy Riot

How it started – Pussy Riot Prayers, February 2012

08/17 Pussy Riot imprisoned on hooliganism charges
08/17 The only professionals in sight
08/19 Pussy Riot protesters arrested in Marseille
08/20 NZ PM – Sentence 'disproportionate'
08/20 Pussy Riot fear their kids being put in care
08/22 German supporters face criminal charges
08/22 Pussy Riot – it's carefully calibrated
08/23 Russian church-state corruption unveiled
08/23 Putin's secret weapon: The Orthodox faithful
08/24 Putin-nominated watchdog slams convictions
08/31 'Pussy Riot ritual killing', man detained
09/03 Orthodox deacon speaks over verdict
09/06 Putin denies part in 'Pussy Riot case'
09/10 Pussy Riot benefit concert draws 1,000
09/10 Gorbachev says verdict "disproportionate"
09/19 Punk group to transfer to remote penal colony
09/21 Aung San calls on Moscow to release RP
10/01 Sentence appeal delayed until Oct 10
10/10 Katya freed, 2 years for Nadya and Masha
10/16 Masha and Nadya sent to remote labor prison

BBC • Pussy Riot women begin life in prison

11/16 Merkel challanges Putin on imprisonment
11/22 Maria Alekhina transferred to solitary cell
11/28 Tolokonnikova's appeal case goes to court
12/24 Extremist videos appeal adjourned

01/15 Masha's sentence deferment denied
02/01 PR civil claim granted right to appeal
02/07 Pussy Riot files complaint with ECHR
03/06 Ombudsman asks court to overturn verdict
03/08 Protesters detained in Moscow
04/13 PR gets reprimand: parole problematic
04/21 PR defense seeks abolition of conviction
07/26 Parole denied, PR remains defiant

The Knife supporting PR at Pukkelpop

08/17 Against verdict on PR – Day of Solidarity
08/23 PR seeks mitigation of remaining sentence
GLUCK ON SOCIALISM AND CHINA Asia (c) Robert Churchill
Photo © Robert Churchill

Professor Sidney Gluck (c) Sandi BachomI am honored to have obtained Professor Sidney Gluck's (right) permission to allow me to repost here some of his work and interview related to China and socialism. Professor Gluck is professor emertius at the New School University in New York. A classical Marxist, Gluck has been studying China for 60 years in history and modern development. He has lectured all over the U.S. and still welcomes engagement at the age of 94 – photo © Sandi Bachom


Usman Khurshid on Mike McCune's HD Monitor with Paths logo with Maartje van Caspel's Public Space
I am proud to announce that the website is now carrying the technology updates from Usman Khurshid's Usman is a network consultant and works in a mixed environment of Windows and Linux platforms. He likes to study about the latest advancements in computer technology and shares his views on his blog.

Click here to read Usman's tech blog
Subscribe to RSS feed
Photo © Usman Khurshid, Mike McCune, Maartje van Caspel
COMING 2019 – COMPUTING CORPUS Active Network Hub (c) Phil Sigin-Lavdanski
Photo © Phil Sigin-Lavdanski

Oh, please do not get me wrong. This new section is not about computers, electronics or any engineering stuff, but rather I am currently constructing a new corpus based on Spectrum, the monthly publication from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA, from July 2007 to date. Having been a member for over 20 years since 1992, I am always fascinated by some of the terms scientists use when they talk about or envision their new inventions or methodologies. How many of them eventually come into practice? Could there be some insights we could possibly derive, from the linguistics perspective?


This website is published and designed by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA and reflects only his personal views and opinions in his individual capacity. It does not represent the views and opinions of his firm, employer(s), students, etc., and is not in any way sponsored or endorsed by any other thrid parties. Click here to read my full disclaimer

Share on Twitter  Add to Facebook  Share on LinkedIn  +1 on Google