Hybrid & Online Education at the University of California

Over the last two months, I’ve been contacting the University of California IET departments, and I have been struck by the differences in scope, approach, and technology. My findings are anecdotal and preliminary, but they seem to warrant a deeper investigation into what kind of hybrid and online initiatives are happening at the University of California.

Most campuses seem to have some kind of hybrid offering, generally faculty-driven initiatives that utilize the campus’ learning management system (e.g., Sakai, Moodle, Blackboard). As the UC Santa Barbara representative explained, a high percentage of courses are made “hybrid” in some way by Gaucho Space (Moodle). However, the extent to which online elements are being incorporated across the curriculum is difficult to measure because, unless faculty are officially redesigning their courses into a hybrid format (which generally includes 50% reduction in “seat time”), there are no approvals required.

Some institutions do offer training—at UC Merced, for example, all faculty teaching hybrid courses must attend a half-day pre-semester training on the basics of online teaching pedagogy and the use of various technologies. At UC Davis, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers an annual six-week hybrid course redesign workshop for faculty, as well as a hybrid design course for graduate students, but these are not required.

Fully online initiatives are easier to measure, but they vary widely. Some universities, like UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara, only offer a handful of online courses, but have plans to further their efforts. Others, like UC Davis and UCLA, have robust Extension programs that have been offering online courses for years. Several of the UCs also have plans to offer fully online Master’s degrees: UC Riverside is developing an MA in Engineering for 2013 and one in Public Accounting for 2014; UC San Francisco is developing in MA in Health Administration and Interprofessional Leadership for winter 2013 and an MA in Health Policy and Law for fall 2014.

Finally, two of the UCs have officially begun exploring massive open online course options by partnering with Coursera. UC San Francisco joined Coursera last year and launched three courses in January and February 2013: Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; Contraception: Choices, Culture and Consequences; and Clinical Problem Solving. UCSF plans to produce 15 new and 20 repeat courses with Coursera between now and 2014-15. UC San Diego announced their partnership with Coursera just last month; they will offer a Pharmacy course in April and Sustainable Food & Energy in the fall.

For more information, visit the universities’ academic technology websites:

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