Board wants one school to lead Florida’s efforts online
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 7:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 7:56 p.m.
Florida’s Board of Governors decided Thursday that one university should lead the state’s push into higher education online.
The board, which oversees Florida’s 12 public universities, approved a two-pronged online learning plan that will designate a single school to take the lead for the entire State University System.
The university will be chosen based on pre-eminence metrics passed by the Florida Legislature last year, when it appropriated funds for an outside consultant to study online education.
The online program will be designed as a separate arm that still maintains the high standards of the university’s traditional programs.
The other part of the plan is the formation of a statewide working group to continue looking into ways to better coordinate online offerings by all the universities. State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan will assemble the group.
Patricia Frost, vice chair of the board’s Strategic Planning Committee, presented the plan. She cautioned that the online arm of a high-performing university should not be a springboard into traditional classes and should not lower admissions standards. The goal is to create a high-quality online education system.
“We think this is a very progressive first step in our effort to enhance online learning,” she said.
Board member Ed Morton encouraged high standards for the chancellor’s working group as well. He pointed out that the group could benefit from people who aren’t steeped in current methods but rather are familiar with new technology and methods.
Board chairman Dean Colson agreed.
“We have a lot of work to do in that area,” he said.
The board members also discussed Florida State University’s digital film program and determined it must be moved from West Palm Beach to the school’s main campus in Tallahassee.
Florida State and local officials in West Palm had pushed to keep the digital film program there after a private company that had been partnering with the university filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection. The firm, Digital Domain, pulled out of the partnership and closed its new animation studio in nearby Port St. Lucie.
Students also have written letters to the board urging it to let the program stay in South Florida, but only one member, University of Central Florida associate professor of civil engineering Manoj B. Chopra, opposed the move during Thursday’s conference call meeting.
Chopra, the board’s faculty representative, said the digital film major wasn’t reliant on Digital Domain and had its own identity and success based on curriculum and quality instructors with industry experience as well as its South Florida location. Faculty members have told university officials they will not move to Tallahassee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.