Should online learning be required?

There has been some discussion at the K-12 level about mandating, as a requirement for high school graduation, that students take at least one online course. The rationale, in part, is to better prepare students for the world they will be working in, and online learning has proliforated the workplace in many ways, including online professional development and increases in online graduate degrees for working professionals.

The Wired Campus article below takes this discussion into the realm of post-secondary education, raising the question: Should at least some online learning be a requirement for graduation with a higher ed. degree? Some people might argue that it is inappropriate/unnecessary to require a student to take a course in a specific delivery format, or create another barrier to graduation. Others might argue that the question is outdated, considering the national enrollment trends in online learning. Read below and decide for yourself.

Wired Campus

August 2, 2010, 06:01 PM ET

Texas Students Could Be Required to Seek Off-Campus Learning Options

By Marc Parry

A Texas higher-education panel is recommending that students be required to complete at least 10 percent of their degrees outside the classroom, through options like online courses.

The proposal is one of several online-learning ideas in a new draft report prepared in response to Gov. Rick Perry’s call for higher-education cost-savings recommendations.

The report also recommends that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board be given authority to create a new institution to offer associate’s programs online.

“If the University of Phoenix can be successful” providing online programs, “the question needs to be asked: Can the public sector do the same?” said Bernie Francis, a member of the committee of education and business leaders that the coordinating board established to produce the report. Mr. Francis, chief executive of Business Control Systems, stressed that he was offering his own opinion and not speaking on behalf of the committee.

It would be unusual for a state to mandate that college students take online courses, according to several national distance-learning experts. But there are other state and campus efforts now under way to shift instruction online. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, for example, announced a new push to have 25 percent of all system credits earned through online courses by 2015, nearly triple the 2008 level of 9.2 percent.

Full article available at

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