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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

UF hopes online learning, university can go the distance

Online learning was the focus of UF’s Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning.

Provost Joe Glover and Assistant Provost for Teaching and Technology Andy McCollough gave a presentation about the future of online distance learning, which has become a hot topic, as the state of Florida has announced its intentions to create an online university.

“The legislature is moving — very purposefully, I think — to name a lead university to help direct the state’s online efforts,” UF President Bernie Machen said in the meeting.

McCollough talked about UF’s commitment to online learning in the past and the future.

“We’re not Johnny-come-latelies in this activity,” he said. “We were on this train back when this train was a covered wagon.”

About a third of all undergraduate students at UF take at least one online class a semester, McCollough said.

“We’re going to emphasize online learning as a way to provide access and to tap alternative sources of revenue,” he said.

UF offers 70 graduate degrees online, and people can take UF classes for free on Coursera.

The state recently decided to allow the university to collect a distance-learning fee. Last year, UF collected $3.3 million in cost recovery.

UF has decided to step up to the challenge the state has issued to create an entirely online university. Friday’s presentation discussed the problems involved in creating such a university such as academic integrity and majors that include laboratory classes.

The state expects this online endeavor will be up and running by January 2014, Glover said, so UF would have to move on a “very aggressive timeline.”

“This is not something we can stand on the sidelines and watch others do,” McCollough said.

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