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MOOC bill shelved in California

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 8:44am

This is an issue that everyone in higher is following (and if you're not, you should be).  Legislation in California aimed at getting state institutions to award credit for massive open online courses from non-university system providers has been shelved for a year:

The bill, SB 520, caused a stir when it was introduced, in March, by State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a powerful Democrat in the California Legislature. Faculty unions strongly opposed it, and later drafts of the bill would give faculty-governance bodies more oversight of what outside courses could count for credit.

Now Mr. Steinberg has shelved the bill. The senator will re-evaluate next summer whether the legislation is still necessary, said Rhys Williams, a spokesman.

The senator changed his mind after the three public systems in California moved to expand their online offerings. California State University, for example, announced on Wednesday that it would offer 36 online courses this fall that could be taken for credit by students at any of the system’s 23 campuses.

More recent background is here, and this New Yorker article is a good, long primer on the whole phenomenon. While it is not at all clear what the impact of massive open online learning will be on traditional higher education - or, in fact, how to make such offerings available in a way that can sustain itself - many institutions have and continue to move forward with these offerings. It's certainly a situation with great opportunity as well as serious peril for the system as currently construed. This new development in California marks a significant pause for reflection amidst all the progress. 

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