CSU rolls out expansion of online courses

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With record enrollment highs and a potential increase in budget, the CSU system will offer online courses ranging from free no-credit classes to degree-completion programs.

The CSU system will offer online programs with Cal State Online after Gov. Jerry Brown’s newly proposed CSU budget requested $10 million be allotted to an online course expansion.

Students who enroll in Cal State Online may receive a degree for the campus they to which were admitted.

CSU Monterey Bay, CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU Fullerton are universities that currently participate in the program. CSUN, CSU East Bay and CSU Fresno will begin to accept applications later this year.

Jermaine McGee, 23, senior art major, has taken four online courses and said they can be more efficient for people who don’t have reliable transportation.

I think it is important for universities to offer online courses, because some people aren’t able to make it back and forth to campus,” McGee said. “I would definitely take another online course, it was a challenging experience but overall it gave me more time to study for other courses.”

Karen Girton-Synder, CSUN’s director of distance learning, said she supports the growth of online courses.

“(Online systems are) great way to open up courses for people who can’t go to college and allow people to attend the courses they want wherever they want,” Synder said.

San Jose State University (SJSU) has partnered with Udacity to offer online courses known as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) to students. Udacity jointly creates three introductory mathematics courses for students to take, including remedial and intermediate algebra and statistics.

MOOCs make available free online courses from any university that offers them to anyone who is interested, and they are not limited to students.

The Cal State Online server does not use MOOCs, but it still operates as an online class system.

According to Educause, an information technology service for higher education, there are three different MOOCs providers: Coursera, edX and Udacity. All providers offer fully online no-credit courses at no cost to anyone interested.

Charmane Bethune, 23, senior sociology major, has taken two online courses and said she enrolled because it was her last option and very convenient.

“It is important because some students are employees and parents, so it is a more convenient option for busy students,” Bethune said.

SJSU Provost Ellen Junn said the university picked three courses generally hard for students and wanted to try a different way of teaching it.

“We are focusing on trying to include more human interaction and support,” Junn said.

SJSU is working on another MOOC pilot, edX. At SJSU, edX materials (online video lectures, quizzes, and discussions etcetera) are added into an electrical engineering course at SJSU, according to the SJSU-EdX press conference.

Junn said SJSU students can take courses to receive credit for $150 per course, and various types of financial aid will be offered to students.

She added mentors at SJSU provide support to students to help make sure they complete assignments and have the o
pportunity to connect with professors during office hours.

SJSU plans to test the format to see if it works for students who need more assistance and aims to make learning more interesting and fun, Junn said.

Coursera has partnered with 33 universities such as Stanford University, Rice University, Columbia University, Duke University, UC Irvine and Princeton University, according to Coursera.

Harvard University, Massachesuts Institute of Technology (MIT) and UC Berkley currently offer edX courses, according to edX.

Stanford University, San Jose State University (SJSU) and University of Virginia offer Udacity, according to Udacity’s course catalog.

Udacity and Coursera were established at Stanford University, and edX is led by Harvard University and MIT.


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