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News Clips 01/08/2013
EDITORIAL: Higher ed's future
Source: Orlando Sentinel, 01/05/13
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Higher ed's future
The digital revolution that has shaken so many businesses has not bypassed higher education, so it's good to see a new focus emerging on how to improve the range and quality of online classes offered by Florida's universities.
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford sharpened that focus with a bold proposal: create a separate university — Florida's 13th — dedicated to online learning. For sometimes it takes a powerful idea — even a problematic one — to get people's attention.
Weatherford's goals are worthy. He wants to replicate the success of Florida Virtual School, where he says more than 122,000 students in grades K-12 "are currently receiving a high-quality education at a fraction of the cost."
But Florida can't afford to create a new university — not after lawmakers created a 12th one last year while cutting $300 million in university funding.
Besides, there's talent in our existing universities to expand the system's online offerings. With proper training and support, more professors can teach online. Building a separate university for online instruction could send the wrong message, one that says, "That's not our job. They do that over there."
Some Florida universities already are doing a lot online. State Chancellor Frank Brogan says the University of Central Florida is doing a particularly good job.
Online instruction and other issues in higher education will be on the agenda in a forum the Sentinel is co-sponsoring with UCF on Jan. 29 in Orlando. Weatherford will be among the panelists.
A high-quality university system is vital to Florida's future.