UC Regents Announce Online Course Expansion

The new programs include cross-campus online enrollment and course credit approval

University of California officials recently announced several new initiatives to further develop online education for the UC system through the Innovative Learning Technology Initiative, an online education program launched in early 2013 under former UC President Mark G. Yudof.

The initiatives were discussed during the last UC Board of Regents meeting held last Wednesday on Jan. 15 in San Francisco at the Mission Bay campus with the presence of the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems.

Some of the initiatives include the establishment of a cross-campus enrollment webpage, funding for an additional 30 courses to be created and the development of an approval process for cross-campus course credit.

The establishment of ILTI was made possible with the $10 million grants that Gov. Jerry Brown allotted to the UC and to the CSU systems in July 2013. It was intended to offer more undergraduate courses online with an emphasis on high-in-demand and prerequisite classes.

An older program, UC Online, was launched in January 2012 after a two-year pilot program. It now offers 11 courses for cross-campus enrollment during Winter Quarter and Spring Semester 2014.

However, not all of the UC campuses are participating in this endeavor. UCSD and UC Santa Barbara have decided not to partake in the program until the complication of processing student enrollment is resolved.

As a strong advocate for online education, Brown believes in its ability to offer students affordable and accessible courses for credit through technological means. Nevertheless, some UC officials are wary of the issues that online course programs pose.

UC provost Aimee Dorr prepared a presentation during the meeting to show that students were generally “less happy and less engaged” in online class environments lacking human interaction. Regardless, Brown continues to urge for a complete absence of human interaction in online courses.

“You say you need human touch — I say, maybe you don’t need it,” Brown told the The Daily Californian on Jan. 28. “The barrier here is the human software, the human thought that we’re putting into the technology.”

Amidst the skepticism shared by some UC professors, the expansion of online education is still underway, beginning with ITLI. UC officials and Academic Senate leaders have been meeting frequently since September to propel this project forward. They intend to create 150 credit-bearing courses by 2016, offering online and hybrid courses that infuse the traditional environment of classes with online courses.

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