Putting Education Reform To The Test

Separate University Most Expensive Option For More Online Courses


Florida is looking at ways to expand online learning. An online university is being considered, although it's the most expensive option.

The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) has taken the idea of an online university to the Florida Legislature.

Education committees heard presentations this week by The Parthenon Group, the consulting firm hired by the BOG to come up with options for expanding online learning.

The choices include creating a 13th state university that would be online only.

Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Opa Locka, doesn’t like the idea.

“I am very concerned with the concept of having a standalone online university,” Stafford said. “It could have the potential to have a negative impact on the other universities in that we would limit what they would be able to offer online.

“I understand that we need to evolve and we need to expand” to compete globally, Stafford said, but she’s also concerned about how much this endeavor would cost.

The report found that an online university would be the most expensive option, costing $70 million to start. It’s also the most expensive based on estimated cost per year.

Other options include having individual universities beef up their online offerings or collaborate to share resources for online programs.

Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, isn’t ready to say which idea he thinks is best.

“The education world is changing. It’s shifting on a technology basis, and we have to be ahead of the curve on where things are going and how students are learning,” Bileca said. “I really, at this point, am taking an approach of listening, researching, and understanding.”

The move toward expanded online learning is likely to get a lot of attention during the legislative session that begins in March.

House Speaker Will Weatherford told the BOG a year ago that creating an online university would be a big issue for him this year.


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