2010 November 07 Sunday
University Of California To Experiment With Online Courses

The University of California is finally stepping up to the plate to offer online education for a small number of classes. The UC should take much bigger steps in the online realm out of budgetary necessity.

The University of California has issued an invitation to faculty to participate in a rigorous pilot project designed to test whether undergraduate online courses can be taught in a way that delivers UC-quality instruction.

The project will involve as many as 25 for-credit courses offered in a wide array of disciplines, and faculty will have until Dec. 13 to submit letters of intent stating their interest in developing and teaching an online course as part of UC's Online Instruction Pilot Project. The university expects most courses selected for the project to be ready for student enrollment by January 2012, and the pilot project will continue until the end of that year.

The UC is rather late to the game for an innovation that has the potential to deliver many benefits. The UC can't hope to get enough money to fund bricks-and-mortar classrooms for a growing state population.

The project is getting under way at a time when there is a growing demand from students for a UC education, and UC budget projections show an increasing gap between these enrollment pressures and the university's funding for on-campus construction of brick-and-mortar facilities.

The state government has unsustainable pensions whose growing costs will cause more cuts of tax revenue appropriations for the UC. The state's chronic budget deficit means that the UC needs to restructure to cut the costs of delivering instruction to students. Online education is a necessity and should not be approached as an experiment.

The state of California spends more on state employee pensions than on higher education.

Flanked by Mayor Chuck Reed, who has made pension reform a key target in his city, the governor said the multiplying costs of government retirements have drained public coffers and outraged voters.

"We're spending more this year on pensions than we are on higher education," Schwarzenegger said.

State employees can retire so young that they spend many years collecting benefits.

The budget rolls back pension benefit increases for state workers, which were approved in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom. It increases the age of retirement eligibility from 50 to 55 for future public safety workers and from 55 to 60 for other new hires.

No need for state employees with high retirement benefits to maintain bricks-and-mortar buildings if teachers, students, and other current users of those buildings meet in virtual classrooms and watch prerecorded lectures.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 November 07 09:09 AM  Education Online

Mthson said at November 7, 2010 11:34 AM:

I hope to retire at age 80 at the earliest. (I hate dreaming small.) That would double the amount of years spent in career compared to people who retire at age 50: ~58 years instead of ~28 years.

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