Capitol Alert

Gavin Newsom faults insufficient outreach to faculty in push for online education

Sacramento Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell speaks with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, following a discussion that included Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow, on higher education on Monday, May 18, 2015, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento.
Sacramento Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell speaks with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, following a discussion that included Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow, on higher education on Monday, May 18, 2015, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he and other proponents of online education, including Gov. Jerry Brown, failed to sufficiently engage faculty members in their longstanding push to expand online course offerings at California’s colleges and universities.

Brown has pressed the University of California and California State University systems to expand online offerings for more than two years, hoping to expand the system’s reach and to reduce costs.

But his efforts remain largely unfulfilled. A highly publicized partnership between San Jose State University and Silicon Valley’s Udacity Inc. faltered after it was announced in 2013.

Many faculty members expressed concern at the time about the quality and cost-effectiveness of MOOCs, or massive open online courses.

“When I look back, I get why they were reticent,” Newsom said after a panel discussion with Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow in Sacramento. “It was a very … it was a one way conversation. I was enthusiastic about it, the governor led it, but I look back and we should have had a much more robust two-way conversation.”

Newsom said that by involving faculty more, there is “absolutely” an opportunity to reinvigorate the push for online learning.

Brown is continuing to prod the state’s colleges and universities toward increased online course offerings. In his revised budget plan last week, he said the UC has “committed to expanding online programs in strategic areas” and will study the issue this summer.

Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, sits on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees.

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