California’s higher education system is in need of reforms if college students want affordable college degrees for subsequent generations. A solution to overcrowded classrooms that has been continually discussed is the integration of online courses.
Senate Bill 520 is written to be the architect for systematic integration of online classes into campuses across California. However, Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who led the bill, stated that he will no longer push the legislation forward.
The bill remains relevant to the discussion of higher education reform. Steinberg stated that the Legislature will revisit the bill in August of 2014, after looking into the effectiveness of online courses more carefully.
The bill would’ve targeted overcrowded classes across all UC, CSU, and community college campuses by consulting with their respective academic senates. They would then devise a list of “20 high-demand lower division courses at his or her segment that are deemed necessary for program completion.”
These courses will be translated into an online format for students to enroll on the newly created “California Virtual Campus.”
In addition, SB 520 would’ve provided money to each campus for “15 of the courses selected” with “incentive grants to faculty and campuses of his or her segment with the goal of facilitating up to 15 appropriate partnerships…to significantly increase online options for matriculated students.”
While SB 520 presented an amicable solution to reducing overpopulation rampant across all higher education institutions in California, the transition to online courses highlights the possibility that it will reduce the quality of education. Online courses are convenient and help to satisfy graduation requirements, but the role of an instructor mastered in the material at hand cannot easily be replaced.
However, for students that have remained in enrollment limbo across all California higher education institutions, SB 520 represented a fresh solution to a problem some students have requested.
Increased enrollment, rising fees, and an increasing difficulty for college students to enroll in the classes required for their degree present just some of the hallenges current students face. California State University (CSU) Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer President Ephraim P. Smith recently said:
“We continue to face unprecedented demand for CSU programs with limited space available. Renewed state investment is critical to closing that gap.”
The expenses of education are already depleting the checkbooks of California’s students and families. A transition to online course enrollment represents an efficient, cost-effective solution for everyone who desires a college degree