California State University is starting an online program this fall that will let students on any of the system’s 23 campuses enroll in online courses offered by another campus to obtain credits they need to graduate, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials hope the program will help students who have been shut out of hard-to-get classes find the courses they need and graduate faster.
The classes are not MOOCs, the massive open online courses that have been highly controversial on some Cal State campuses. Institutions that offer the courses will control class size and, in most cases, make sure they are filled to capacity at 25 to 30 students.
The program will start out with 36 classes in high-demand subjects like biology, physical geography, statistics, astronomy, and business finance. “Potentially, a few hundred or a thousand could participate,” Michael Uhlenkamp, a Cal State spokesman, told the newspaper. Officials will be watching to see what the participation rate is, he said. Many students have already registered for their classes this fall, however, and may be unable to take advantage of the program.
The bottleneck for hard-to-get classes developed during years of steep budget cuts for Cal State and other public colleges and universities in California. While the financial picture has brightened since voters approved new taxes in a referendum last fall, the long-beleaguered higher-education system is still recovering from the years of hard times. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers have championed online courses as one way for campuses to cut costs.
In another sign of the improving fiscal climate, most Cal State campuses will accept applications for the spring term next year, officials said. Spring enrollments have been severely restricted or even closed in the past few years because of the budget cuts.