Calif. Bill Would Promote Statewide Online College Courses

Lauren Williams's picture

Students locked out of overcrowded core courses at California's state colleges and universities should instead be able to take those classes online, according to legislation introduced Wednesday in Sacramento — sending shock waves through academia nationwide.

The bill by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) calls for the development of 50 online classes as potential substitutes for the most oversubscribed lower division courses required for graduation at UC, Cal State and community colleges. In a controversial portion, the proposal would allow these classes to come from commercial providers or out-of-state colleges if their academic quality passes review by a panel of California faculty.

"The world is changing. Technology is a growing force in our lives and we want to use it to try to help as many young people as possible be able to achieve their dreams and compete in the modern economy," Steinberg said during an online group video chat.

His bill, SB 520, Steinberg said, would reshape higher education by partnering it with the technology "to break the bottleneck that prevents students from completing courses." He described it as the first such effort in the nation.

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