Patrick Sheehan’s May 3 Op-Ed, “From the Makers of Massive Budget Cuts: A Digital Education,” is based on the incorrect assumption that the University of California Board of Regents and administration are pursuing online education as a solution to $900 million in state funding cuts.
The regents support the exploration of possible benefits of online education, including enhancement of student learning and, yes, alternative revenues; they would be remiss not to do so.
At the same time, the regents and administrators recognize that online education remains unproven as a moneymaker. And the first priority of university leaders remains unchanged: doing what’s best for UC students, expanding access and helping them advance toward timely graduation.
UC and many other institutions see technology as an exciting tool for student success, and the University is pursuing this thoughtfully and carefully, consulting all stakeholders along the way. UC President Mark Yudof has always referred to these efforts as a “coalition of the willing,” and there is no desire or push to dictate curriculum to students or faculty, top-down, as Sheehan suggests.
Those faculty or students who have participated — whether in a for-credit online course or a MOOC partnership at UC — have had a generally positive experience. The University of California will continue to explore how such offerings might enrich teaching and learning at the university and, perhaps someday, lead to financial benefits.
Shelly Meron is a University of California spokesperson.