Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Past the e-learning tipping point

It has been reported that California is considering legislation to require public universities to accept on-line courses for credit in introductory courses. (CA bill could make online education worth college credit, Lauren Hepler, Mar 13, 2013). In one sense this is hardly news, as on-line courses have been run and accepted by universities for decades. Legislators requiring universities to accept particular courses sounds like an imposition, but the detail of the proposed bill seems to be more a case of allowing them to accept the courses: academics at the university would still have the say as to if a particular course from elsewhere met the required standard. The article mentions Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), but most of these have no form of assessment which would be accepted by a university.

The issue in California appears to be an underinvestment in tuition for introductory courses, leading to very large classes and a shortage of places. The obvious solution would be for Californian universities to form a consortium of their own and offer on-line introductory blended courses. They could combine the on-line components with face-to-face components on their own campuses. This would take investment.

We are well past the e-learning "tipping point". Last week I invited my class in for a face-to-face session where they could discuss issues raised by the course they started some months ago. They found this an interesting novelty and we will be doing it again later in the course. The course is normally on-line and these "tutorials" follow the same format as used for the on-line discussions.

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