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Richard Rider

Explosion of college online course offerings is main reason to oppose all higher education school bonds

Below is an article that unintentionally presents a MAJOR reason to oppose ANY further “bricks and mortar” spending on California colleges — including the many college school bonds on the November’s ballot across the state.  Just as the revolutionary “Uber” ride-sharing industry is changing the cab business, so is online learning rapidly changing the academic business.  And in both cases, the entrenched “old school” providers will try to use government to block such innovations, while spending taxpayers into a deeper and deeper hole for outdated infrastructure.

This timely article in the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE points out that in ONE YEAR the number of San Diego Community College District online courses has grown 21%.  Students like it — the faculty does not.  But clearly it’s the future in education.

Not that there won’t be SOME need for “hands on” training.  But not much in the liberal arts curricula, which usually constitute the majority of the courses and the students.

The San Diego CC district deserves kudos for being so innovative. A couple other regional community colleges are fighting the online option, protecting the faculty from students choosing what the students (and their parents) perceive as a superior, more convenient education at lower cost. A couple of these colleges ha’ve had ZERO increase in online courses offered. But colleges are not like the monopoly K-12 school districts — students can get their collegiate education where they please — including online.

On the other hand, MiraCosta CC leads all community colleges in the state by now offering 40% of its courses online.  Yet the college is touting a massive $450 million construction bond on the ballot this November!!

This online learning option needs to be emphasized in the coming battles over community college school bond propositions.  Spending more money on campus structures for schools with stagnant enrollments and facing an explosion in online class offerings is madness.

Unless, of course, you are a college faculty member faced with obsolescence.  And like all education unions in the state, the faculty unions will fight for their current inefficient education model, at the expense of students and taxpayers.

But when it comes to these college bond tax increases, we the VOTERS have the final say — not the labor unions.  And we should resoundingly say NO!

SIDE NOTE:  As the online course revolution evolves, it’s becoming clear that such courses can be SUPERIOR to the classroom offerings. Anyone who has been to college in the last 40 years knows that on the undergrad level, you can end up with lousy instructors — up to and including TA’s who are totally unskilled at teaching.

Online offerings include the ability to put the All Star lecturers before THOUSANDS of students. it reduces the “hit or miss” class signup lottery, where the quality of the professors varies widely.

Also, from a student and parent standpoint, such online learning — offered by the college OR BY OTHER SOURCES — can bypass the PC indoctrination that pervades today’s college campuses. Indeed, this competition will ideally help rein in this oppressive-progressive madness.



Survey found demand for more convenient classes



More students than ever will take online courses when they return to City, Mesa and Miramar colleges today, with three schools showing a 21 percent jump in the courses.

Other area districts also saw an increase in the number of online courses being offered this fall, but none matched the jump at the San Diego Community College District.

A slight increase was seen in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, with Grossmont increasing from 210 in the fall of 2015 to 240 in the new semester, and Cuyamaca increasing from 101 to 105 in that same time. In North County, Mira-Costa College is adding 13 more online classes this semester.

Other districts reported no increase in the number of online classes.

Jack Beresford, director of communications for the San Diego Community College District, said the increase is in response to a student survey last spring. Students also wanted the district to offer classes at more convenient times. The new online classes will be across the board, but with a special emphasis on core courses needed to transfer to four-year schools or to help students complete their associate degrees, he said.

Stephanie Bulger, vice chancellor of Instructional Services at the district, said online classes fit in well with students’ lifestyles.“With so many of our students busy working or raising families, it only makes sense to provide them with a larger selection of online courses, which offer greater flexibility in their schedules,” she said.

Bulger said 64 percent of students in the district were part-time last year, possible because more are working as the economy improved. Although work cuts into their schedule, many still want to continue their studies.

“A lot of the students who are working will take online classes to augment their schedule,” she said.

With the additional classes, about 20,000 students are expected to take online courses this year at the district’s three colleges, a 13 percent increase from 2015.

A recent study found students happy with their online experiences in the district, with 91 percent saying they had a good environment to study in and 86 percent saying they were comfortable communicating electronically. Ninety-five percent said taking charge of their own learning was very important for their success in school and their future careers.

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To see the rest of the story, go to the URL. (760) 529-4939 Twitter: @GaryWarthUT