March 13, 2013
California Considering Online Class Substitutes For Credit
California is considering legislation that would allow college students to substitute out of state online courses for oversubscribed classes at state institutions. This would give a big boost to the value of commercial and free classes if the legislation passes. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the legislation may be introduced as early as today. It would allow for a faculty commission to determine the 50 most oversubscribed classes and which online substitutes would be eligible for credit.
The plan is not without criticism. The article quotes Professor Lillian Taiz who is the president of the association that represents faculty at California State:
The alternative to the bill, of course, is funding more physical seats and more faculty members. California is one of the growing numbers of cash-strapped states. That option is not likely to occur. I think the plan is viable if the quality control implied by the faculty commission works as planned. I would think other states in a similar position with their colleges may look at California’s experience and adopt a similar program if there is a level of success. The idea is to provide credentialed education, not maintain the faculty status quo. [MG]
“There’s a sort of mania for massive online courses right now,” she said, “but there’s no good evidence that they work for all students.” She also criticized the Legislature, saying it had imposed budget cuts that “have sucked public higher education dry of resources” and was now proposing to “give away the job of educating our students.”