UC hopes to use Prop. 30 funds to expand online course offerings 

click to enlarge Gov. Jerry Brown said UC students will have more opportunities with additional online classes. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Gov. Jerry Brown said UC students will have more opportunities with additional online classes.

With an additional $10 million from the state, the University of California system announced Wednesday that it is looking to increase online course offerings to bridge a gap in enrollment.

The UC Board of Regents said it hopes to increase access to a quality education by offering more online core courses to undergraduate students.

“It’s no secret that the University of California has hit a wall with traditional methods,” President Mark Yudof said Wednesday. “The finances no longer exist to support the old model of instruction.”

The courses will focus on those that satisfy requirements for a major, general-education courses and those in high demand, UC Provost Amy Dorr said.

UC San Francisco — and many other campuses — already offer online courses. UCSF, as a graduate program, will not participate in the new initiative, but representatives said there are some options already available to their students.

Additionally, Yudof said he wants faculty to help develop programs in high-enrollment and high-demand courses and offer incentives to those who wish to participate. He also said he hopes to have in place by fall a system where students at one campus will be able to take courses online at another campus.

The UC system started developing online courses three years ago, but the passage of the Proposition 30 tax increases in November should accelerate the process. UC Online currently offers 325 for-credit courses and serves nearly 12,000 students, according to Dorr.

Though the goals of the program are still in development, some regents hope that in five years, at least 10 percent of undergraduate courses would be taken online in students’ first two years. But Yudof said that would not be a requirement.

“It would be a magnificent opportunity to be able to educate more students and to be more efficient,” Yudof said, “but no students enrolled at UC as undergrads would be required to take one course online.”

Regents heard from three companies that offer a variety of online courses, including different grading and interaction models. A company was not chosen Wednesday, and the discussion will be ongoing. However, on Tuesday, the California State University system agreed to work with Udacity to offer three basic courses at San Jose State.

Gov. Jerry Brown applauded UC’s efforts, saying it would cut down on costs and give students more opportunities to get the courses they need to graduate.

“We’re embarking on some important work,” he said.

Not all regents were sold on the idea. Jonathan Stein questioned whether students have been brought to the table.

“No one’s asked if they want this,” he said. “If you make the first two years of classes online, you’re throwing out sports, clubs, volunteering and student leadership. We don’t even know if we can learn for two years in front of a computer screen.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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