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Online Learning and Traditional Universities

An interesting debate is unfolding in the University of California. UC is striving to be “the nation’s first top-tier research institution to offer a bachelor’s degree over the Internet comparable in quality to its prestigious campus program”. But, not surprisingly, some faculty and students find the move to online education unsatisfying and beneath their lofty self-view: the “cyber campus to be just the beginning of a frightening trajectory that will undoubtedly end in the complete implosion of public higher education”. A faculty report (.pdf) is equally negative: “not only degraded education but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum as well as campus autonomy…a picture emerges of undergraduates jammed through a mediocre education and ladder rank faculty substantially removed from both control over and involvement with undergraduate education”. The UC process is worth watching closely. It’s a potential jumping off point for many traditional educational institutions to begin focused adoption of online learning…


  1. Hello George, a quick read it seems to me a lot with the arguments that we have encountered in my school since we started the project to have some online courses (national groups). Some of the criticisms are so familiar to me …

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  2. I noticed in the comments ‘control’ is the operative word. It would be best to shift to ‘sharing’ of knowledge/learning/experience. Such a shift in thinking might make the transition easier and this shift needs to come from leadership.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink
  3. Online U wrote:

    As a designer for a very large online university, I have seen that the benefits of transparency far outweigh the fears expressed. A good online program balances the needs of academic freedom/control with the business practicalities of standarization and accountabilty. In many ways, I have seen that a full fledged across the board investment in offering degress online actually improves the quality of education as well as the student experience.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink
  4. Hector Alvarez-Truji wrote:

    I have been teaching at the same four year college for the past 14 years, and 12 years ago we started our online program. First we offered a variety of course, then AA degrees; today we have entire BA and MA programs online. There were many reasons why our institution moved towards offering online education, profits I am sure was one of them. From my perspective, as a faculty member that wants people to have access to education, online education made sense to me. I also thought about my older adult students, those that have more than one job, have families and other obligations which sometimes prevent them from attending college. For those students, online education makes senses too.

    I do have my reservations, the quality of both, the faculty that offers the course and the course itself have to monitored and supervise, but the same could be said about traditional education. The negativity i see, among those people that so adamantly oppose online education, have to do more to their fear of technology and their reluctance to change. To them i just want to say, online education is here to stay, let’s make sure that those institutions that are offering it give our students a quality education; that is all we can do.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Diego Ibarra wrote:

    I am a student at Georgia State University, and i am also currently taking an online course. I believe they are definitely beneficial to many because they are very convenient. I can do all of my assignments from the comfort of my own home. I have learned as i would in normal class courses.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink