School News

A letter to the West Virginia Real Estate Commission

- Nov 30, 2010      Archive

The WVREC moved to require on July 31, 2010, ARELLO certification for all their online real estate license courses. In November they extended the requirement to April 30, 2011. As owner of Cooke Real Estate School, I felt that I should express my opinion to the Commission regarding the importants of ARELLO certification. Here is the letter:

November 24, 2010

West Virginia Real Estate Commission
300 Capitol Street, Suite 400
Charleston, WV 25301

Dear West Virginia Real Estate Commissioners,

I just received the memorandum regarding the ARELLO certification implementation being extended to April 1, 2011 for all distance learning courses.

After reading the memorandum, I felt that I needed to write this letter from our firm, to let you know that even though ARELLO certification certainly is more work and effort from an educator’s point of view, that ARELLO certification is a must for quality control and to give the student the assurance that they are getting a course that will give them the best opportunity to learn the material. If a state wants their licensees to have the knowledge and ability to serve the public, the national accepted standards of ARELLO certification is a must for all distance learning courses and I applaud West Virginia’s efforts to become an ARELLO state.

Florida, where I have been a licensed school owner since 1978, is not an ARELLO state. As a result, the licensees in Florida are allowed to take correspondence courses for continuing education which about 90% + of the students in Florida take. All a student has to do to complete the course is to answer 30 questions from the text, and no assessment is necessary. A textbook is given to the student. A couple of schools in Florida mail the textbook out to all licenses, a total of 312,000+ licensees. All a student has to do is to pay and send back the grade sheet, which takes most students less than an hour to complete, and they are through. This experience has made me appreciate what ARELLO brings to the table and the tremendous benefits ARELLO provides to the license industry in a state.

The ARELLO standards that make a quality course:
1. There must be assessments that the student has to pass to move on to the next module.
2. There has to criteria for making sure the student that registered is the person taking the course.
3. A course has to have a time-trial to make sure the course is good for the hours advertised or required.
4. ARELLO requires courses have appropriate levels of interactivity. 5. The course must have learning objectives, an orientation, and must have a student evaluation of the course.
6. ARELLO requires instructors complete the CDEI course.
7. An instructor must be available to answer students’ questions within a specific period of time.
8. There must be verification that the instructor assigned to teach the course actually took the course.
9. The course Learning Management System records the time the student was taking the course
10. ARELLO examines the technical components of course delivery to help ensure the provider has the necessary technological infrastructure to properly offer the course and to ensure adequate functionality of the course.

Our school developed our own online distance learning courses in 2007 and found success. We decided to offer our online courses to other states such as Alabama and Mississippi, which require ARELLO certification, and because of that process, we have become huge ARELLO supporters. As per most entities, our school didn’t like the change initially but once we went through the ARELLO program, we found that the ARELLO certification process helps us tremendously in our course offerings. We added items like: live chat, security questions, discussion sessions, timing mechanics, better orientation and epilog, a better learning management system and a better back end system with redundancy and a better back-up system.

Having the ARELLO certification process also help level the playing field for distance learning providers, for our course now provides a better learning environment. Because of ARELLO, our competition has also risen to the ARELLO-quality level and all students benefit.

Being assured of quality distance learning courses also levels the playing field for those students who do not have access to, or the means to attend local on-site classes. In order to serve the general public, distant learning course standards should follow national standards.

Any change in this policy by regulators is not fair for a school that has had to invest in improving their courses and bringing them up to national professional standards, such as what ARELLO requires, and then the changing the requirements again after the effort and the expense to comply has been completed. Not knowing, students then purchase inferior distance learning courses which do not meet the various stringent criteria that ARELLO certification calls for.

I just hope that West Virginia continues after April 1, 2011 to implement the ARELLO standards for their approved real estate licensing distance learning programs.

Frank L. Cooke, Jr.
Cooke Real Estate School Headquarters
West Virginia Provider #57