* Online Education in the media, July and August 2013

U. of Texas president wants faculty input on future of  online education | Inside Higher Ed

University of Texas at Austin is President Bill Powers’s has prepared a white paper on the future of “technology enhanced” education in order to initiate dialog on how the University will continue to develop –  and remain a leader in – online and “blended learning.” Asking for faculty involvement means ceding some control but  “Nevertheless, faculty need to decide how available material should be used and incorporated into the curriculum, Powers said — and should be encouraged to develop new content.”

Read full article [HERE], by Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed.


Dead or Dormant?

We believe the best outcomes for online education occur when faculty and institutions are motivated and supported to design high-quality options for students. Ideally, colleges and universities would craft solutions, but use third-party courses as safety valves to ensure students have access to necessary classes. The hope is that the three public systems will continue their progress, find real solutions to the course access problem, and not fall into the trap of doing the same old thing again, just with online options. At this point, one might actually suggest that a welcome policy outcome has indeed been accomplished as a direct result of the initial language in SB 520. The bill is certainly not dead. The bill itself could now be thought of as a safety valve, providing an option in case the three systems fail to show real progress in meeting the challenge of course access. We are, however, cautiously optimistic that viable and effective change is, at least for now, in the formative stages.

Read full article [here]. by Phil Hill and Dean Florez, Inside Higher Ed.


The MOOC ‘Revolution’ May Not Be as Disruptive as Some Had Imagined

Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the leader of the State Senate, quietly decided to put his online-education bill on the back burner last month. The bill, introduced with fanfare in March, originally aimed to push public universities to award academic credit to students who succeeded in some massive open online courses offered by outside providers. But now that the universities have promised to expand their own online courses, the senator sees no immediate need to let outside providers through the door, says his spokesman, Rhys Williams… it’s starting to look as if what they have to offer to universities may be technology tools and services that are more helpful than revolutionary.

Read full article [here]. by Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Senate leader’s online education bill draws fire

A bill backed by Coursera, a high-flying online education company, that would extend academic credit opportunities for California public university students is likely to be put on hold, the bill author’s office says… “This bill is not the privatization of higher education, which is what faculty have expressed concern,” Hedlund said. “We are not halting the bill because of our opposition, but because we want online education systems to become more established before we further move the legislation.”

Read full article [here]. by Robert Thompson, Capitol Weekly.


California State University unveils ‘radical’ new plan for online courses

This fall, for the first time, the nation’s largest public university system will offer the option of online courses to all of its students, using digital technology to overcome pervasive space shortages in real-world classrooms. A program revealed Wednesday by the 23-campus California State University includes more than 30 courses approved systemwide, from Elementary Astronomy to the History of Rock and Roll… CSU’s new cross-campus course option is just the kind of experiment Gov. Jerry Brown has been prodding California’s public colleges and universities to try, arguing that smart use of technology could help more students get into and through college. It was funded from $17 million in state money originally earmarked for online education, Uhlenkamp said.

Read full article [here]. by Katy Murphy, Inside Bay Area.


The perils of online college learning

You don’t have to ask where you’ve heard this before, because you hear it all the time. Every new technology is hyped as a world-changer and life-changer — just last year, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was urging that every schoolchild have a laptop, because in the near future, textbooks would be a thing of the past. As I observed at the time, this was education as seen through the eyes of Apple Inc., not through the eyes of genuine educators…  if university administrators think the online model will allow them to save money, say, by employing fewer or less-qualified teachers, without sacrificing the quality of the education they provide, they’ve been hoodwinked. That’s the danger of believing promises of a pedagogical revolution when they’re purveyed by companies with something to sell.

Read full article [here]. by Michael Hiltzik, The Los Angeles Times.

Rebooting online education

Online courses should be developed thoughtfully, from within the colleges, not as a result of top-down directives from the governor. The subjects that are offered should be based on student demand and faculty analysis of which would work best online. The preferences of even the best-intentioned billionaires should not be part of the equation. Nor should online courses be viewed as major money-savers, as Brown has pitched them. It still takes well-educated people, interacting with those who need an education, to provide high-quality courses, whether that’s via the Internet or in a classroom.

Read full article [here]. by The Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times.

MOOC mashup: San Jose State University — Udacity experiment with online-only courses fizzles

Advocates of this effort will offer all kinds of excuses. They may attempt to blame teachers. They may argue that it is only a pilot program and kinks still need to be worked out or that the data is only preliminary. However, there are real-world, long-term consequences when we “fail fast” in higher education… Dealing with tough economic times by handing off education to private vendors and using public funds to increase online offerings through these vendors will not serve California well in the long run. Politicians’ well-intentioned efforts to increase access for students ignores a proven solution that we know will increase access: investing resources in more class sections. Thanks to rebounding economy, we finally have a chance to begin reinvestment in our public higher education. Let’s invest these public monies in what we know works.

Read full article [here]. by Kell Fujimoto and Elizabeth Cara, The San Jose Mercury News.

California university’s online education experiment gets an ‘F’ — for now

San Jose State University is shuttering the five online classes it introduced in April, a decision that may prove to be a major setback for online education. On Thursday, the university announced it would suspend the courses, which it created in conjunction with online course provider Udacity. More than half of the students enrolled in these courses failed the final exams… The school — and California’s political leaders — had exceedingly high hopes for this new online component. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has repeatedly spoken in favor of massive open online courses (MOOCs), and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) spoke at San Jose State University to introduce the Udacity classes, which generated a great deal of media hype.

Read full article [here]. by Christina Farr, Venture Beat.

Udacity Project on ‘Pause’

After six months of high-profile experimentation, San Jose State University plans to “pause” its work with Udacity, a company that promises to deliver low-cost, high-quality online education to the masses… San Jose State Provost Ellen Junn said disappointing student performance will prompt the university to stop offering online classes with Udacity this fall as part of a “short breather.” … This spring, Udacity and San Jose State offered three online for-credit math courses for $150 to 100 students per course. Of those students, half were San Jose State students and the other half were un-enrolled students who might have come from high schools or the military. Junn said this makes it tough to compare the online students taking the Udacity courses with regular San Jose State students. Still, the Udacity students fared significantly worse than their in-class peers, according to preliminary findings Junn presented to fellow California State University System provosts last month… According to the preliminary presentation, 74 percent or more of the students in traditional classes passed, while no more than 51 percent of Udacity students passed any of the three courses.

Read full article [here]. by Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed.

Summary of decisions at UC Regents meeting: July 16 to 18

The board is expected to discuss the UC system’s 2013-14 and preliminary 2014-15 budgets, a report on the University of California’s efforts to implement online education programs and other items at the three-day meeting, which began Tuesday. The board is also expected to vote the nomination of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as the next UC president on Thursday.

Read full article [here]. by staff, The Daily Californian.


Beyond MOOC Hype

Dan Greenstein, the head of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, now wonders aloud if MOOCs are a “viable thing or are just a passing fad.” Gates has agreed to spend $3 million for wide-reaching MOOC-related grants. But Greenstein said higher ed is suffering from “innovation exhaustion,” and MOOCs are part of the problem… Sebastian Thrun, the CEO of Udacity, predicted last year that within a half-century there would only be 10 institutions of higher education left in the world. Now, Thrun is a bit more modest. “Upfront, I believe that online education will not replace face to face education, and neither is it supposed to,” he wrote in a blog post last month.

Read full article [here]. by Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed.


California Governor Removes Strings From Money for Ed Tech

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed his own idea on Thursday to make the University of California and California State University systems spend $10 million each on education technology. The new money was designed to allow the two systems to increase the number of online courses available to undergraduate students. Instead, under the budget Brown made law Thursday, the two universities will get to keep the money and spend it any way they want. Brown used his line-item veto power to take the strings off the money, although both UC and Cal State say they will go ahead with plans to buy technology with the funds.

Read full article [here]. by staff, Inside Higher Ed.