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From California Watch: UC online instruction pilot sparks excitement, controversy

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Note: Here is an update from non-profit investigative site California Watch about the UC plans for  expanding online courses as a way to educate more students and make more revenue in the future. -WA editors

UC online instruction pilot sparks excitement, controversy

October 21, 2011 | Erica Perez

As a small cadre of University of California faculty prepares to deliver the first online classes in a systemwide experiment, the effort is stirring both excitement and controversy among instructors and administrators.

The Online Instruction Pilot Project will launch roughly 20 to 25 online courses at nine campuses beginning in January. Faculty and researchers will evaluate the courses, and if the data suggest the courses have a positive impact on students’ learning outcomes, UC will push to make online instruction a permanent part of the undergraduate experience.

The idea is to create UC-quality courses that can expand access to students while also generating extra revenue during increasingly tough budgetary times. The pilot courses are aimed at UC students, with some offered to non-UC students as well.

But leaders of the University Council – American Federation of Teachers, which represents the system’s more than 3,000 non-tenured lecturers and librarians, are concerned the university’s push toward online instruction could threaten lecturers’ jobs and degrade the quality of a UC education.

Meanwhile, some faculty members who are developing courses for the pilot said they are excited about testing new ideas and technologies and getting more students into UC-quality classes. They don’t see the expansion of online offerings as a means to cut jobs – nor would they support such a move…..

Read the rest of the CaliforniaWatch piece here:

Story by California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting


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