Zingg rings in fall with online courses debate

The university budget, the ongoing debate over online schooling and the need to efficiently combine classroom instruction with advancing technology were all subjects of the Chico State President’s Fall Convocation address.

President Paul Zingg delivered his comments to a near-capacity crowd at Harlen Adams Theater on Thursday afternoon.

 The passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012 is slowly stemming the tide of severe budget cuts that have plagued the California State University system over the past several years, Zingg said.

“We have had our seven years of scarcity,” he said. “For the first time in seven years we are looking at an increase in our general fund allocation as well as an across the board salary increase.”

Part of the increased funding is a compact with the state government on better outcomes for California public college students.

Zingg did not pull any punches when discussing the trend toward massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as a way to keep education costs low. He said that the outcomes produced by such programs are often of inferior quality.

“The debate we are having about MOOCs … is among the most naïve, the most ill-informed, and stupid I have ever seen,” Zingg said.

The need to produce high-quality results that do not just focus on numbers of degrees earned was a prevalent theme through the speech, a concept Zingg repeatedly summed up as “getting it right.”

“Technology without direction … will neither serve our mission nor enlighten our work,” Zingg said.


Bill Hall can be reached at [email protected] or @thebillhall on Twitter.