College leaders in Florida have expressed wishes to enhance and expand online education in the state. The goal of this expansion is to encourage more people to get bachelor’s degrees, especially in fields that are seeing a shortage of skilled workers.
StateImpact Florida reports that the Florida Board of Governors has hired a consulting firm, the Parthenon Group, to analyze current online education offerings in Florida and to recommend steps that could boost the economy of the state.
After closely analyzing current offerings and numbers for four months, the Parthenon Group has made four recommendations. One of these is to encourage colleges and universities to create more online programs. Other recommendations include selecting a few colleges to act as online development leaders, having a statewide coordination of system-wide development, or the creation of an entirely new, online-only university that will offer degrees in specific areas of study.
The Board of Governors and other educational experts are not eager to create a totally new online university, but have not discounted the idea yet. While they hesitate at the $50 million minimum price tag to start such a school, that is not the only issue. Members are hesitant to take this route because of ongoing technological and other costs as well as the idea of letting one online university drive most of the state’s online education efforts.
As for the other recommendations, they are expensive as well. This expense is one of the reasons that the Board of Governors is taking things slowly. They want to ensure that the state and its residents receive the greatest benefit from any expenditure. One of the price-minded ideas being considered is to create a Massive Open Online Course, which would cost the state around $100,000 to implement, but would offer students a college education at around $90 per class.
All involved parties agree that more research and planning is needed before a definite path is chosen, but all also agree that online education must be expanded across Florida. Considering that 40% of college and university students in the state reported taking at least one class online, there is no question that this is what Florida’s students really want.