By Carl Straumsheim
Florida’s public institutions are anxiously watching this spring’s legislative session, which rounded the halfway point last week. Regardless of what dies on the floor or is signed into law, the universities are still waiting for clarification on the fallout of last year’s session.
House Bill 7029 took a turbulent path to reach Governor Rick Scott’s desk last June. The original bill would have circumvented the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits Florida’s public institutions, by authorizing courses accredited only by state officials. The United Faculty of Florida, the state’s main faculty union, reacted with outrage, saying the plan would compromise the quality of education, and after months of lobbying, Scott signed a much narrower bill into law.
What remains in the bill are vague directives on massive open online courses and credit for outside learning. According to the law, the Florida Board of Governors and the State Board of Education “shall adopt rules that enable students to earn academic credit for online courses, including massive open online courses, prior to initial enrollment at a postsecondary institution.” Supporters of that idea say it will give students a wider range of options from which to learn the same material, which could potentially lower the cost of higher education.
Almost 10 months later, and less than a year and a half before the statute is scheduled to go into effect, some faculty members say they have yet to hear anything about what those rules might look like.
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/15/accept-moocs-credit-florida-international-u-may-set-prior-learning-assessment ]