Domestic, International, Public education, Required, University & College - Written by on Saturday, September 17, 2011 19:12 - 1 Comment

Update On U. Cal System Plans For 26 Online Courses In January





By Sayed Mohsen via Flickr under Creative Commons


The San Francisco Chronicle published a Page One update about The University of California system plans to launch its first-tier cyber courses, starting in January. (UC Investing Millions in News Cyber Studies Program; Monday, September 12, 2011). That means 26 online courses ranging from climate change to game theory writes Nanette Asimov. It hopes students from emerging markets sign up.

Academically, the UC system is venturing into territory that supporters hope will be the next wave of innovation: intellectually rigorous e-classes so animated and interactive that students can’t help but excel.

School officials say they will carefully study the experiment, aiming to identify what works and what doesn’t. At WiredAcademic, we think this is a very positive move for the industry. More top drawer schools such as UC and Stanford engaging with online education brings credibility and innovation to the space. But it is also a risk …. as the author notes:

Economically, the online venture is equally experimental. Its most vigorous proponent, UC Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, expected to raise $6 million for the pilot program, but attracted just $748,000 in private funds. Rather than abandon the effort, UC gave it a $6.9 million interest-free line of credit.

The plan is to repay the loan by selling at least 7,000 spots in online classes to about 5,000 non-UC students – perhaps in China, said Greenstein.

Asimov notes that the plan has plenty of critics and could be fraught with risk:

But to UC faculty who already question the wisdom of online instruction – how to prevent cheating is just one concern – the idea that it’s a cash cow is far-fetched. And the fact that UC is laying out millions of dollars after promising to tap outside sources is beyond irritating….

Of thousands of professors employed across UC, just 70 answered the call for online course proposals despite the promise of up to $30,000 in development funds for each. A panel of faculty and administrators chose 29, of which 26 are a go.

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Wired Academic
Sep 17, 2011 22:08

Additional questions we’re pondering: Why did a big brand like UC Berkeley attract so little money? Was it economic conditions, or the weight of for-profit scrutiny by the U.S. government?

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