In a press conference conducted via Google Hangout on Wednesday, California state Senator Darrell Steinberg introduced a bill that would allow California public universities to award credit for online classes. (Side note: only in California would a senator have a Google+ account, and use it for a hangout to announce major support for online education.)
The plan is to allow a limited list of 50 over-subscribed, basic level courses, particularly those required for graduation or introductory classes, to be taken online. Because these classes are often over-subscribed (particularly requirement classes, which by definition everyone needs to take) and tend not to be the most engaging educational experiences for students or professors, offering credit online offers a way to reduce the load on California’s burdened public higher education system.
It’s unclear if the bill will pass, but Steinberg’s bill puts major weight behind online course providers like Coursera, Udacity, edX and others. This kind of symbiotic relationship between traditional higher education and MOOCs is really a win-win for everyone: online classes gain legitimacy, universities can rest assured that basic educational requirements are being met, and students don’t have to pay top dollar for basic requirement courses they can take more affordably (and more efficiently) online. All in all, a good day’s work.