California State University’s ‘radical’ plan for online courses

California’s online program could be a model for other states.

This fall, for the first time, California State University students will be able to take courses offered online on any of the system’s campuses — regardless of where they attend.

The plan announced today, includes about 30 courses approved for systemwide consumption, from Elementary Astronomy to the History of Rock and Roll.

In other words, a student from San Francisco State can sign up for a microeconomics course taught at CSU Northridge, while students from that Southern California campus can learn all about American politics from a professor who teaches in San Francisco.

“It’s radical for our system,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesman for CSU.

The cross-campus course option — called “concurrent enrollment” — was funded from $17 million in additional state funding originally earmarked for online education initiatives. Students will be limited to one course per term that is offered by another CSU campus, in addition to any online offerings taught by their college’s own professors.

The University of California is developing a similar program with state funding, and the California community colleges are using the money to develop their online programs.

Notably missing from the colleges’ fall enrollment planning is a controversial online education bill introduced this spring that drew fierce faculty opposition.