BY ELISA LEE
Three years ago, UCLA offered three online classes, but more than 30 will be available next quarter.
Undergraduate student government council members said they think the increase in online classes could offset the growing enrollment across all University of California campuses. Over the next three years, the UC plans to increase systemwide enrollment by an additional 10,000 undergraduate students.
The Daily Bruin’s Elisa Lee spoke to Ellen Osmundson, project coordinator of the UC Innovative Learning Technologies Initiative, or ILTI, to discuss the future of online education and Cross-Campus Enrollment, a program that allows UC students to enroll in classes taught by professors from other UC campuses. Osmundson said the program has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Daily Bruin: What is Cross-Campus Enrollment?
Ellen Osmundson: Cross-Campus Enrollment allows students in the UCs to take an online course offered by any one of the other UC campuses and get general education or major credit for taking that course. We started in June 2013 and the first courses were open in winter quarter of 2014.
Only a few of the undergraduate campuses have geography departments, but students who don’t have geography departments can take courses through the program. UCLA offers seven courses through Cross-Campus Enrollment.
DB: How much do Cross-Campus Enrollment courses cost?
EO: The courses are covered by your tuition. It counts as one of the courses you would be taking (during the academic year), but there are fees in the summer.
DB: Why is the UC making a move toward online classes?
EO: One of the factors involved is based on faculty interest in teaching online, and using new technologies allows faculty to really develop courses that have content tightly aligned with the curriculum. One of the other things that an online course can help with is space issues, such as classroom seating. You can still offer the same kinds of learning opportunities for students who meet online and have them log in and participate in discussions while alleviating space constraints.
DB: What is the future of online classes going to look like for the UC?
EO: I think we will continue to see an increase in online courses that are being made available to students. Remember that they are still options – it’s not mandated that you have to take any given course online. The focus for ILTI has been to make classes at one UC accessible to all UC students.
DB: How have students responded to the online classes?
EO: The surveys (students took after taking an online class) show a high level of satisfaction with online courses. The number one factor in terms of what students report liking the most is flexibility to review the materials when they want.
DB: How are the UC’s online courses different from online courses offered by nontraditional universities?
EO: The courses are developed and offered by UC faculty. They have to be approved by the academic senate on every campus before they can be offered. It’s the same process that a face-to-face course goes through for every campus. That sets them apart from the courses that are offered through nontraditional universities. The second difference is that the UC does not offer a fully online undergraduate degree.
DB: What efforts are being made to ensure students are still interacting with each other?
EO: There are tools that support and encourage collaboration. Professors will assign students to work in small groups and answer questions. A number of faculty use blogs, asking students to post and respond to comments from other students. Juliette Levy, a history professor from UC Riverside, said online courses make it seem that essentially everyone is sitting in the front row. Students can interact in a way that’s harder to accomplish in a 250-person lecture hall.
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