CSU’s solution for course bottleneck shortsighted

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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

The California State University Board of Trustees will decide this week whether to fix impacted courses statewide by redesigning  19 of them to be fully online courses. This is a misguided attempt that will sacrifice quality of education for quantity of classes.

The thinking behind the proposal is noble, if not sound. The CSU’s mission, to provide education for Californians who need it, would be partially fulfilled by the new courses. But the CSU runs the risk of diluting the quality of education with its proposal.

For example, students who take difficult classes online might find it nearly impossible to do well without an instructor who can walk them through problems and concepts in person.

The impersonal nature of online courses also extends to the scholarly discourse between students, a vital component to educational success. During online classes, people are often either too casual with their responses or make in-depth, complicated posts that are meant only for the professor. And the teacher becomes a nagging moderator, frantically trying to drum up the least bit of interest among disaffected students.

But the biggest issue with this type of class is that you lose motivation to get work done. When you don’t have to be in a classroom, with your professor standing in front of you, it’s easy to forget about your assignments.

Perhaps the best course of action for the CSU system would be to convert these courses to hybrid classes.

These hybrids allow students work online and require them to meet at school as well. Implementing this solution would combine the cost-savings of online classes with the personal nature of quality higher education.

When the Board of Trustees sits down to decide how to increase access to education this week, we hope they take quality into account instead of just reading the bottom line.

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