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Higher ed expert advises caution in online learning

August 11, 2010

President Obama pointed out earlier this week that the United States has dropped from first in the word to 12th for the percentage of adults with college degrees. State higher education officials are meeting in Providence this week to discuss that very issue. It’s a particular challenge for state colleges and universities, which have seen student demand rise at the same time that state education spending has fallen.

“These men and women are facing just enormous challenges,” said Michael McPherson, co-author of the book Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities, who spoke this morning at the conference.

McPherson notes that many schools are looking to the internet as a way to serve more students with less money. This may be the only solution in the long term, but McPherson cautions that schools have to track the success of their programs.

“How well does it work? The evidence isn’t as good as it needs to be,” says McPherson. “We need to learn more about what ambitious innovation can accomplish because there’s no other solution. We’re not going to put in enough money to educate a lot of people in the ways we traditionally have.”

The Annual Policy Conference of State Higher Executive Officers continues through Friday in Providence. You can hear more of Michael McPherson’s conversation with WRNI host Bob Seay tomorrow morning on WRNI’s Morning Edition.

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