Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Florida Moving Forward in Exploring Online University

The Tampa Bay Tribune recently published an article giving more details about the state's plans to explore the creation of the state's thirteenth university, which would operate entirely online. 

Florida, not known as a higher-education innovator, nevertheless might become the first state in the nation to open an all-online public university.
As even venerable institutions such as Harvard University and MIT join the push to offer more coursework online, the "mail-order diploma" is losing its stigma.
Nicknamed "Online U," it would be Florida's 13th university. It's one option of several under consideration by the state's Board of Governors as it grapples with an increasing need for an educated workforce, rising tuition and a loss of utility tax money for construction of new buildings.
The board this month hired The Parthenon Group of Boston to begin researching online options, including the fully online school. Another possibility is pulling together the best online courses offered at the University of South Florida, University of Florida, Florida State University and others, making them available to all students, no matter their home school.
I simply see this as another potential non-funded mandate. That seems to be the pattern in Florida. The State University System in Florida has seen nothing but budget cuts in the past few years, but the state has managed to create a twelfth state university by allowing the University of South Florida-Lakeland to become the independent Florida Polytechnic University and now by exploring plans to create a 13th university. The state cuts K-12 funding, but then requires districts to purchase new, expensive new evaluation systems that require observers to use iPads for realtime feedback as well as being ready to administer tests and distribute textbooks digitally by 2015. 


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