Online Education in California

BY BRITTANY HANSON / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

We asked Gary Brahm, chancellor of Chapman University’s adult education affiliate Brandman University, about current trends in online education and looked at proposed legislation that aims to change the landscape of online education in California.

Brahm’s observations:

• Responsibilities with family and jobs are what typically keep people from going back to school. The growth in online, continuation education is in part to programs that can be built around a person’s schedule.

• For Brandman at least, the student age is most often around 30 years old.

• There are more women who participate in online learning. Even in traditional higher education models, there are more women than men earning their degrees.

• Women seem to be more interested in higher education. It’s hard to say why, but there is a trend over the last 20 years or so and who is seeking out further education has transitioned.

• Online students often go to school to try and find avenues to improve their financial situation through education.

• For many online students, or those who are looking for a non-traditional education, they are often the first generation to go to college. In the online education angle, these are students or adult who are out of high school, but may not have had the help that is necessary to find and apply for college.

• A faculty trend for online education is to train educators to know how to effectively set up a purely Internet based “classroom” and provide meaningful instruction.

STATE LEGISLATION

Online education in the state has in the past been the responsibility of each individual university or organization, but proposed Senate Bill 520 is looking to change that. Here are some details and concepts from the bill:

• The two-year bill seeks to utilize online education options to help alleviate some of the physical overcrowding at traditional universities and colleges by facilitating basic coursework for university credit available online.

• The bill language says the move is a response to capacity statistics.

• “In the 2012–13 academic year, 85 percent of California Community Colleges reported having waiting lists for their fall 2012 course sections, with a statewide average of more than 7,000 students on waiting lists per college.”

• “Similarly, impacted courses have contributed significantly to difficulties within the University of California and California State University systems, with figures indicating that only 60 percent and 16 percent of students, respectively, are able to earn a degree within four years, with lack of access to key courses a factor in increased time-to-degree.”

• Utilizing an online education system within the UC, CSU and CCC could help alleviate these problems.

• Proposed programming would involve having a mandatory 15 to 20 lower-level courses offered online from each school in the UC, CSU and CCC systems.