California bill would expand clout of online college courses

In the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose State University already offers massive open online courses, or MOOCs, for academic credit.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


A California state senator plans to introduce a bill tomorrow that would make California the first state in the nation to require its public universities and colleges to award academic credit for faculty-approved online courses.

The bill, to be submitted by California Senate President Darrell Steinberg, comes as state budgets for higher education are being slashed across the U.S., resulting in fewer spots for students in courses required for graduation. Credit for online courses would help students who are unable to register for impacted classes, possibly preventing expensive extended stays in school.

“We want to be the first state in the nation to make this promise: No college student in California will be denied the right to move through their education because they couldn’t get a seat in the course they needed,” Steinberg told The New York Times. “That’s the motivation for this.”

U.S. colleges and universities have in recent years been ratcheting up their online offerings in an effort to improve graduation rates. More than 6.7 million students in the U.S. were taking at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, according to a recent survey conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous yearMORE

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