The Florida Board of Governors will enter 2013 with a priority of expanding higher education online.
Members will meet in mid-January to talk about their options, including the creation of a public university that is online only.
“There could be no doubt that Florida is already a major contributor to the world of online learning,” Chancellor Frank Brogan said. “Now we need to organize our efforts to devise a plan that provides a maximum return on investment in the future.”
The 2008 Florida Legislature authorized the formation of the Florida Distance Learning Task Force.
Back then, state leaders hadn’t agreed on definitions for terms like E-learning, distance learning, and online learning.
- Adopt the definition of distance learning where at least 80 percent of the direct instruction of the course is delivered utilizing some form of technology when the student and faculty member are separated by time, space or both.
- Distance learning fees as authorized in state law should apply only to courses meeting the above definition.
- Adopt the definition of hybrid/blended courses where at least 50 percent and not more than 79 percent of the direct instruction of the course is delivered utilizing some form of technology when the student and faculty member are separated by time, space or both.
- College and university boards of trustees should encourage the expansion of distance learning course offerings so that more opportunities will exist for students to fully complete associate and baccalaureate degrees through distance learning.
- The Legislature should consider officially establishing the Florida Distance Learning Consortium as a statewide higher education collaborative with a mission to lead and support Florida’s state‐level distance learning initiatives in partnership with its member institutions. (The Florida Distance Learning Consortium exists now as part of the Florida Virtual Campus.)
Research by the Parthenon Group found that 40% of university and college students in Florida took at least one course online in 2010-11, and students at all degree levels are enrolling in online degree programs.
A March 2011 report outlining an overview of E-Learning for the Board of Governors found those students would be armed with these 21st century skills:
- Improved technology literacy
- Effective Internet research
- Effective online communication
- Effective online collaboration
- Comfort with virtual learning and working environments
- Prepared to be life-long learners
The Board of Governors is likely to embrace a system-wide selection of online degree programs led by one of Florida’s 12 public universities.
The board meets January 16-17, 2013 at the University of Florida in Gainesville.