UC Class of Online: Cal Begins Web-Based Learning

Forget the UC in the OC. How about the UC on the WWW?

The University of California's plan to offer online classes appears to be an either/or situation, according to the San Jose Mercury News: the first American top-tier university's foray into the online world is either a "highly-selective" Web-based extension of Cal's existing curriculum, or a "degradation" of the university's brand.

There's plenty to ballyhoo: the first online courses, offered this summer, are allowing students to access their teachers until 11:30 p.m. and to tackle credit courses such as chemistry, composition and other classes required for a degree while located far from campuses or balancing jobs, the newspaper reported.

Unlike other online colleges like the University of Phoenix, enrollment in UC's classes is strictly limited to students who meet admissions criteria. Every UC campus but UC San Francisco, a medical school, offers the online classes, which are devised by UC faculty with Web-based learning specifically in mind.

The plan was approved last summer by the UC Regents despite controversy.

Students taking Spanish remotely from UC Davis, chemistry from UC Berkeley and politics or law courses from UCLA seem to be taking to the idea: it's allowing them to pursue a degree while pursuing their lives, according to the newspaper. While the lecture hall is preferable to some, it's an acceptable alternative.

Acceptable for some, anyway. According to the UC Berkeley Faculty Association, "the danger is not only degraded education, but a centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of standards and curriculum." And that's no good -- though it's what schools from Stanford to Cal State East Bay have been doing for some time.

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