Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Jim Hunt, former governor of North Carolina, hosted a conference attended by more than 100 state university leaders to introduce their essay that calls for an increased role for Web-based education.
The Future of State Universities Conference convened in Dallas last week.
The Bush and Hunt essay “New Higher Education Model” urges university officials to use online education to offset the financial burden caused by deep cuts in federal and state funding and to respond to changes in education.
“Rising costs and reduced government funding in the wake of an economic recession have resulted in financial burdens that our state universities have never known before, and it is clear that funding is unlikely to return to pre-recession levels,” Bush said at the conference.
In their essay, Bush and Hunt write, “Colleges and universities must embrace new digital and online delivery tools to make educational content available to degree-seeking students wherever they are, whenever they need it.”
However, many faculty are resistant to the idea, concerned that it will demean the quality of instruction.
Citing these concerns, Bush and Hunt referenced the 2010 U.S. Department of Education’s “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning” study, which found that students who took all or part of a course online perform better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.
Similarly, a study conducted in the same year by the internationally known scholars Mickey Shachar and Yoram Neumann that analyzed 20 years of research on the topic showed that in 70 percent of the cases, students who took distance-learning courses outperformed their counterparts who took courses in a traditional environment.