Online Education 'Not a Silver Bullet,' Says University of California President

BACK TO THE BASICS: Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and current president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, is keeping an even keel about the prospects of online education. In an interview last week with the Public Policy Institute's Mark Baldassare, she casts some doubt on whether online learning is really cost-effective:

And, by the way, if you do it right, it doesn’t save all that much money, because you still have to have an opportunity for students to interact with either a teaching assistant or an assistant professor or professor at some level. And preparing the courses, if they’re really going to be top-quality, is an investment as well.

Napolitano's comments (brief among many other topics) suggest the new leadership sees online education as a potential cost-saver, not the revenue-generating education-for-all mechanism that investors and some innovative reformers have hoped for.

Somewhat aligned with Jonathan Haber's analysis of the college MOOC market, Napolitano does see online education helping to consolidate the power of the University --"the so-called power of ten"-- so that students can take for-credit courses across different campuses.

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