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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Are online courses the future of education?



The trends lately have been clear: Education at all levels have been moving toward the incorporation of more online courses.

Florida requires high school students to take at least one online course to earn their diplomas. The Legislature is pushing universities to expand their options, with some talk still lingering over the creation of a virtual university. Schools encourage students to take classes online as a way to keep class sizes down. Charter schools are beginning to offer virtual options right along side the public schools.

There's even a national group led by Jeb Bush and former West Virginia governor Bob Wise dedicated to the growth of digital education. And who could forget the latest MOOC trend?

Why? Online offers access to people far from the course source. It also allows students to move at their own pace. And it saves on the cost of brick and mortar classrooms, too.

But is it really the best education has to offer? Times columnist Bill Maxwell suggests in his latest column that online education often misses the point. And he backs up his position with comments from respected Eckerd College president Donald Eastman III.

Speaking about the higher ed aspect, Eastman had this to say: "Much more importantly, a string of courses — online or not — does not add up to a real college experience, even if these courses do add up, at some places, to a degree. As the Wizard of Oz says to the scarecrow, 'I cannot give you a brain, but I can give you a diploma.' "

Could the same be said of education generally? What are your thoughts about the role of online education as it grows in prominence?

[Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 6:35am]


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