Tuesday, April 13, 2004

First full "mirror" of university courses online

The Edupage email newsletter carried a blurb about the plan by the University of Illinois at Springfield to create a full "mirror" on the Internet of all 39 degree programs it offers. This appears to be the first time a university has done this. MIT garnered a lot of press about its OpenCourseWare project, which provides materials from many of the school's courses online, but that program does not grant degrees.

By the time the full project is launched, the University of Illinois at Springfield will be giving students the option of taking any course the institution offers either on campus or online. The school will institute the project in phases, with eight degree programs coming online by fall 2004 and another eight online by 2007. The remainder of the programs will be online by 2014. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is providing funding for this endeavor and has said that it has money available to grant to other institutions who want to do this. The goal, the school says, is to keep online education in the mainstream.

It will be interesting to see if this takes off. This type of far-ranging program could truly bring e-learning to the masses. And giving students the opportunity to choose online versus classroom for every course they take will be a true test for online learning. If schools see students constantly choosing classroom courses over online, they'll get a clear message that they need to improve their online course development.

No comments: