University of California XI: Cyber Campus

by Vault Education Editors | July 08, 2009

  • My Vault

In the Los Angeles Times last week, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley wrote an opinion piece proposing an 11th University of California campus--online. California's public university system has been hit hard by the Recession, cutting faculty, staff and other resources because of budget woes. And worse still, though they received more applications than ever, they were unable to accept them because of limited spots. Says Dean Edley: "We still have unsurpassed excellence, but it is now rationed and increasingly threatened. ... We've had decades of increasing dysfunction in Sacramento and smoldering doubts in some quarters about the value of supporting public education. Now comes the resulting surge in victims--present and future--in families and throughout the economy."

Taking advantage of the UC system's world-class faculty and facilities, the cyber campus "would be a way to put high-quality higher education within reach of tens of thousands more students, including part-timers, and eventually provide a revenue boost for higher education." Dean Edley adds that tuition could be on par with the cost of community college. Low cost, high reward. Sounds like a good plan.

But would UC XI students receive the same education as the students accepted to its brick-and-mortar campuses? According to Edley, "Our online students might miss the keg parties, but they would have the same world-class faculty, UC graduate student instructors and adjunct faculty." Dean Edley references Great Britain's Open University as an online university success story. Open University ranks No. 2 in the U.K. for student satisfaction and is well-reviewed by government inspectors. The evidence in support of online learning--when well run--is beginning to accumulate in the U.S., too. A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education found that, in fact, students performed better in online learning environments than face-to-face, and even better than that when the two were combined. The study added that online learning inspires students to perform more self-study, which can be more enriching than your standard classroom structure.

I hope the University of California system jumps on Dean Edley's proposal. Enriching instruction from a world-class university that I can get on the cheap from the comfort of my couch? Sign me up.

Filed Under: Education

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