I am working on a not so secret project for Midrealm 50. Dr. Corey Olsen is a widely recognized Tolkien Scholar and expert on medieval literature. The two things go hand in hand. I am trying to get him as a guest speaker for Midrealm 50. It is going well.
I have listened to Corey for years. He ran the Tolkien Professor podcast for a long time and then he transitioned it into something else. He started the Mythgard Academy which became Signum University. It was when listening to his podcast and hearing him talk about the process to get Signum University certified that I was like, “we have to get him to speak at Midrealm 50!” And it occurred to me that the SCA would be a good place for his university to flourish. I want to learn Old English, I am sure others want to learn Old Norse. The costs are reasonable. I also assumed most of us wouldn’t care if it was for “credit”. Many of us are fantasy and sci fi nuts. Surely, he is our people; we just don’t know it yet.
Here is the podcast. It really touched me (http://s3.amazonaws.com/signumu.outreach/Special-Events/20180405_Signum-Update-State-Certification.mp3).
The idea of Signum University as a totally online center of learning is wonderful. No bricks and mortar. No insane overhead and headache for the instructors. Better student involvement and lower costs for the students. Heck, I have two pieces of paper from Penn State University. They are very expensive pieces of paper that get no use. I would much rather a digital piece of paper that I thought was useful. Anyway, I am not doing the podcast justice.
In the process of trying to get Corey to speak at Midrealm 50, he wants to expand his student base. That makes sense. He has successfully expanded it into LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online). They sometimes hold classes in the game in LOTRO. How cool is that? I discussed it with my “boss”. I wrote up some copy. Edited said copy. Got said copy approved. Posted said copy on the places my “boss” thought was a good idea. Should be a no brainer. I should have seen the actually outcome.
No sooner had I posted the blurb on the Middle Kingdom A&S site then I get a comment that this is a fraudulent university. I don’t know this person personally and I won’t guess at their motives. Given the speed of posting and the content, I can only assume all they did is google the street address. Yes, it is a small office as part of a mall. They aren’t a physical university. And I stated that they were working on getting certified. That takes time and money to get.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. If this person didn’t do it, someone else would have said something similar. A little more googling or following the link on the post would have given the following:
These are not fly by night people. They have verifiable research and books to their names. They hold Ph’D’s from prestigious institutions. It would have taken approximately 5 minutes to see some of the faculty and conclude, this Signum place is unusual but staffed by people who seem to be experts in their areas.
And I am a student at Signum. I don’t care if it is certified or not. In all my years hiring people, I never once checked if someone actually had the degree they said they did. I never once checked to see if the place listed was a “fraud” or not. Yes it has been in the news that some places are frauds. But it doesn’t take a lot of work to see if this is or not. They are real people who do know what they are talking about. And at the prices they are charging, they are not trying to scam you. This isn’t Trump University. This is affordable liberal arts/humanities education here. To be honest, they are probably losing money.
I didn’t want my post to have as the very first thing “fraud”. I didn’t want to have a debate on what was legit and what was false. I want to see something awesome and special happen. Hopefully, it will.