Boalt Hall Dean Suggests UC Develop New, 'Cyber' Campus

Photo: Christopher Edley
Christopher Edley


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With the state in the midst of a budgetary crisis, it may not seem like the best time to start talking about creating an 11th UC campus. But that is exactly what Christopher Edley, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, is doing.

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times, Edley suggested that the UC system develop a "cyber campus" where students could attend online classes to receive degrees for a cost similar to that of community colleges.

"The UC XI cyber-campus could be a way to put high-quality higher education within reach of tens of thousands more students," he wrote.

In the piece, Edley said that the then $24 billion state budget deficit, which increased to $26.3 billion July 1, is threatening the excellence of public education.

He said an online campus is a way to provide students with an affordable education and build up the middle class.

UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said the topic of online education is something the university will discuss.

"We welcome new and innovative ideas and Edley's piece is something that will be discussed by the president and the regents," he said.

Rafael Granados, the executive director of UC College Prep-which offers online AP courses and courses required for UC eligibility to underserved high school students-said this time of unprecedented deficits requires new innovations.

"The economic condition is drastically closing the doors to students, so having a student body that represents the population of the state is going to be harder," Granados said. "I think the future is utilizing technology."

Edley wrote that he believes online education is vital to the future of California's public education system.

Karen Humphrey, executive director of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, said that online education is something that needs to be on the table when state and higher education officials review the California Master Plan for Higher Education later this summer.

Accessibility to a college education is diminishing while the need for college degrees is rising, she said.

"It's clear that in the future we will need to accommodate more students to a meet the percentage that will be needed to support the future economy," she said.

However, the quality of an online education depends on the model used, the professors and the motivation of the student, said Jennifer Selke, a lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education.

"It's really hard to say (what the quality will be)," she said. "There are some great learning models and some bad ones. I think as in any type of education, it depends a lot on the type of learner and the person teaching."

Selke added that introducing teens to a solely online campus could create problems in the way they learn.

"I worry about that being your entire experience," she said. "If you're a young learner ... it's much easier to escape in an online world."

However, Granados said that

although Edley's suggestion is not an official proposal, online education is a burgeoning possibility for universities.

"The question becomes for the California university systems: can they be innovative, creative and even brave and take something like that on?" he said. "Hopefully the leaders will."

Tags: BOALT HALL SCHOOL OF LAW


Contact Javier Panzar at [email protected]



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