The third generation of UC's online program is in process with a narrow selection of statewide courses being offered. Those teaching these courses are experiencing the limits of scalability for fully online courses, while dealing with the administrative problems created by offering cross-campus course credit. Govenor Brown continues to push the Regents for expansion of online courses at UC despite the high cost of doing it right. The Governor suffers from the common assumption that online courses will be cheaper and larger than traditional courses, while falsely conflating the generalized use of these technologies with UC's ability to survive in the future higher ed marketplace. Meanwhile, UC President Janet Napolitano has publicly expressed concern about the quality, economic feasibility and appropriate use of online courses.
UC-AFT continues to promote investigation of the assumption that online courses will be less expensive and therefore become revenue sources for the University. We do not believe that online courses as a platform will be able to maintain the quality of instruction expected by UC students. We are committed to bringing these issues to our members, the UC Regents, and the public to ensure that the potential for increased access provided by online courses does not outweigh concerns about quality, cost, academic freedom, privacy, intellectual property rights and matriculation rates.
UC-AFT members have been early users of online and digital teaching tools. The Regents, the Governor and other forces calling for rapid adoption of an online panacea need to first have a comprehensive understanding of the current set of online tools used to augument traditional courses at UC. Information and analysis of UC's online program, including development costs, enrollments, scalabilty, student success metrics, etc., need to be publicly available for a robust and informed discussion about the potential for and design of a more permanent online program at UC.
In addition, UC-AFT believes that the courses most likely to move online will be those courses currently taught by lecturers at relatively little cost to the University. UC-AFT has negotiated langauge in our collective bargaining agreement to make sure that the move to distance education is done in a fair and just way for our members, but we remain concerned about the motivations and assumptions behind the UC Online project, and the implications for quality of education and value of degree at UC.