Tuesday, July 17

Editorial: UC push for online education is too strong

The issue

The UC Board of Regents has suggested a strong push toward expanding funding for UC Online, stating that the traditional model of a college education is beyond improvement.

Our stance

The UC Board of Regents’ approach to the UC Online program is rushed and has overlooked student input. The Regents should not be so quick to question the value of traditional classroom education.

The original version of this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information. 

The University of California is using hyperbolic language to push forward an expansion of the system’s online education program, an unproven and expensive tactic for improving the University’s course offerings.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the UC Board of Regents, UC President Mark Yudof said “It’s not secret that the UC has hit a wall with respect to traditional educational methods.”

Yudof added that it is not financially feasible to continue focusing on improving “brick and mortar,” or traditional education. In addition to the $750,000 grant and the $6.9 million line of credit dedicated to the program, of which a significant amount has been spent, Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent budget proposal suggests both the UC and the CSU receive $10 million to continue developing their online education programs.

The suggestion that online education is a more valuable avenue to develop than in-classroom education is flawed.

The University is pouring millions of dollars into a program for which it has received minimal student input. Steve Montiel, a University of California spokesman, said that input from students who have taken the 13 UC Online classes has been positive so far.But outreach to UC students has been minimal: Student regent Jonathan Stein noted at Wednesday’s meeting that the Regents had no evidence of students interest in the UC Online program.

UC Online currently contains 13 courses through which students can fulfill basic requirements online for credit applicable at any campus. While the UC must adapt to new opportunities and expand its educational model, their tunnel vision focus on online education shows too rapid a move away from traditional in-classroom teaching.

Online courses can be useful to students who need to get a couple of requirements out of the way and want the chance to graduate on time when prerequisite courses are full. However, relying on the development of online education as the UC’s answer to the evolution of higher education, as it was suggested at the meeting, is far too extreme a plan.

While Montiel made it clear that the UC has no intention of completely replacing a classroom education with an online one, Wednesday’s meeting demonstrated a strong preference by the UC Regents to focus, and risk wasting, their efforts on UC Online.

UC Online could serve as an effective supplement to traditional education, but attention might be best spent refining the program’s current offerings.

Before emphasizing the importance of funneling millions of taxpayer dollars into a largely undefined expansion of the program, working with a small-scale program, put together carefully with student input, would be far more beneficial to the students.

In the meantime, much of the financial and working effort the UC is putting into UC Online could be put into improving on-campus educational resources that students definitely need.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Correction: UC Online received a $750,000 grant.

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  • hmm

    What? I know so many students who would love the chance to take some of their classes online, that makes being a student who has to work or commute that much easier. Plus how many students choose to watch lectures online on BruinCast rather than actually going to the class. I think the problem isn’t interest, it is that it hasn’t really been made clear to students that this is an option.

  • vrael

    I would love to take online course. A lot of lower division math and sciences course can be self-taught at home at a faster pace than the pace in traditional classroom. The amount of attention that students receive in 300-student lecture hall is practically nothing. I doubt if the people in the back row can even listen to what the professor write or say. The materials for lower division courses are pretty much the same for the last decades. We need online courses, but it has go together with better discussion section or more office hours. South campus students (and I) would love to take online course, especially if it counts towards their graduation or major requirements.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Ricky/100003180671371 John Ricky

    I am totally agreed with vrael. I think online courses are the greatest thing ever created. They allow for so much flexibility. My words of advice would certainly be, just because it’s online, don’t be anxious to ask questions of your fellow student or the teacher. Although you may not get instant response, be vocal.

    Education Representative @ AskForEducation

  • melinda

    When it comes to the welfare of millions of students, one can’t help but give reactions on where the money they pay for taxes go. It’s better that they should run a small-scale program first before they make it big in college papers. In this case, if it’s not going right, they can focus on developin a new one without great loss.

  • http://writemy-essay.net/ writemy-essay.net

    ONline education is very useful, I think so. Nice post. Thanks a lot

  • David Henry

    informative post!