Even as debate continues about how problems of rising costs and unsatisfactory graduation rates, innovative web-based approaches to higher education are being piloted around the state and being embraced by students and, yes, even some faculty and administrators. Taking these on challenges some of higher ed's established business practices, and more importantly, the way students and professors think about the learning process.
This is especially on display this week at the University of Texas System, whose regents have assembled in Austin for a board meeting. Among other things, they will consider a deal with myEdu, a Austin-based web company. While system officials are cagey on the details and say it’s not a sure thing, according to the board meeting agenda, it would entail “a business arrangement that would provide enhanced access to online data including academic course, grade history, and degree information.” Also anticipated, per the agenda, are comments relating to the work of a system task force on blended and online learning.
Though certainly not universally, it seems that a push toward bolstering the usage of such technology may be eagerly received among some students and faculty alike.
“Online and blended learning is something that we have done very well,” says Kristin Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the University of Texas at Arlington. It’s particularly been successful in the nursing, education, and health professional fields, she noted, where professionals pursuing advanced degrees creates a market demand.