UC Launches New Online Courses

    University of California campuses have launched a new program that will allow students to receive UC credit through online courses. The program, UC Online, is available to all UC students now and to a wider audience this spring.

    The UC Office of the President hosted a teleconference regarding UC Online last Wednesday, Oct. 31.

    According to interim Director of UC Online Education and UC Davis faculty member Keith Williams, the first online course, Pre-calculus, was offered at UC Merced in Spring 2012. Five more courses had been made available by the end of spring: three at UCLA, one at UC Santa Cruz and one at UC Davis.

    Last summer UC Irvine offered another four new courses, prep for general chemistry, classical physics, and preparatory calculus 1A and 1B. Four new courses are being offered this fall quarter. UC Berkeley is offering “Beauty and Joy of Computing and Introduction to Information, UCSB is offering Maps and Spatial Reasoning” and UCR is offering “Dance: Cultures and Contexts.”

    A total of about 1,700 UC students, not including students from UCSD, have taken UC Online classes so far. UC online is currently developing 35 new courses.

    By the Spring 2013 quarter, UC Online plans to enroll non-matriculated students from outside the UC system. UC Online is currently working with the faculty and departments to provide these students with information regarding offered courses, and determine how many students can enroll in the program.

    “We hope this will be a way to enhance access to UCs by giving these students a chance to enroll,” Williams said.

    Williams said the program will offer a diverse selection of courses with an emphasis on lower division high-enrollment courses that are usually impacted and limited on campus.

    “The hope is that by offering some of these courses online, it will give students an opportunity to take a class that they’d otherwise have to wait a quarter or semester to get into,” Williams said. “That’s one of the founding principles that was based in this.”

    Each online class will use several learning elements and techniques. Many professors post introductory videos along with the class syllabus and a calendar with assignment due dates. Professors post lectures in various mediums, including videos, podcasts and PowerPoints. Most classes have activities, such as blog posts and interactive data tables, which count toward participation and assignment grades, and some also have the option to participate in online study groups with other students enrolled in the course.

    UC Online classes will be covered by class tuition costs for UC students. Students matriculated to one UC campus have the option of enrolling in courses at another UC campuses but may face difficulties regarding financial aid and major credit due to the differing campus systems. UCSD will offer its first UC Online course, Acoustics and Digital Music Creation, in Winter or Spring 2013.

    According to Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Sammy Chang, UCSD faculty and department members have expressed concerns regarding the effects of offering systemwide courses and allowing students outside of the UC system access to UC curricula.

    “UCSD’s online education plan should focus first on serving UCSD’s own students,” Chang said. “I believe online courses work if it’s within the campus, not the entire UC system.”

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