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Monday, March 04, 2024

Board of Governors considering completely online institution

Early morning classes might not be a problem anymore. Florida’s 13th university could be completely online.

In 2012, the Board of Governors hired a consulting firm to study online education in Florida.

The Parthenon Group, which conducted the four-month study, revealed its findings last month — providing options for the creation, development and growth of online learning models.

Currently, stakeholders and lawmakers continue to evaluate each option, including the proposal for an online state institution.

A BOG staff member said with each option, the goal is to enhance the state’s global position in online education while setting the standard for online learning at Florida institutions.

Every public college and university in Florida, except the newly created Florida Polytechnic University, has an independent online strategy.

Charlie Mitchell, a UF assistant professor of theater and dance, said he believes the state should focus more on enhancing the online options for the new university instead of establishing another institution.

As a professor teaching both a live lecture and an online section, he said students are losing the benefit of live interaction.

“You can’t be an educator and prefer online to live teaching because you’re more in a position to be a content creator online rather than a class leader,” Mitchell said.

Catherine Emihovich, the director of the Center for Community Education and the former dean of UF’s College of Education, shares Mitchell’s concerns.

“The online option may be theoretically cheaper but the quality of the education will be diminished,” she said.

The BOG’s Strategic Planning Committee will meet this month to discuss how it can provide a world-class online program that prepares students for great careers, according to the BOG.

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“There is a certain degree of socialization that happens in college,” Mitchell said. “Are we now going to move all of our relationships online?”

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