California needs a new higher education master plan to replace the "obsolete" guiding principles state leaders embraced more than 50 years ago, and the new approach should embrace online education so the state is once again an innovator rather than the "reluctant follower" it has become, argues a new report from an influential state agency. The report from the Little Hoover Commission, "A New Plan for a New Economy: Reimagining Higher Education," paints a critical picture of the current state of higher education in California, with a need to produce many more citizens with college credentials at a time when the state has "finite resources for higher education."
Among its many recommendations, the panel urges that lawmakers provide "incentives for developing online courses for high-demand introductory courses, bottleneck prerequisite courses and remedial courses that demonstrate effective learning. To qualify, the course must be able to be awarded course and unit credit, at a minimum, at all California community colleges, or all California state universities, or all campuses of the University of California. Better yet would be courses that would be awarded credit at any campuses of all three segments. Courses could be designed by private or nonprofit entities according to college and university criteria."
Not long ago, Altius Education was a darling of the higher ed innovation world, having teamed up with the nonprofit Tiffin University to create Ivy Bridge College, which was held out as a potential model for public-private partnerships to drive college access and completion. Then Tiffin's accreditor intervened, questioning whether the privately held Altius held inappropriate control over key academic functions at Ivy Bridge that should have been in Tiffin's domain, and calling for the partnership to be shuttered.
On Thursday, Altius's ambitions not only of turning Ivy Bridge into a freestanding institution but also of creating other such partnerships appeared to have formally ended, with an announcement by Datamark that it was purchasing Altius's various technology platforms and taking on several dozen of its employees. Datamark, which provides enrollment marketing and other services to colleges and universities, said it would buy Altius's competency-based learning platform, known as Helix, as well as other technologies and invest $11 million in expanding the company's reach.
Bruce N. Chaloux, executive director and chief executive officer of the Sloan Consortium and a longtime leader in the online learning world, died suddenly over the weekend. Chaloux took the reins at Sloan, an association of professionals and institutions involved in digital education, in March 2012. Before that, he directed the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus, a market place of more than 10,000 digital courses, and previously worked at Virginia Tech and Castleton State College in Vermont.
"It is impossible to adequately put into words what Bruce Chaloux meant personally and professionally to each of us," said Meg Benke, Sloan's president and a faculty member in the Empire State College School for Graduate Studies. "He was more than the energetic CEO of our Consortium. He was our good-humored, kind and generous friend. He was an optimistic and dedicated leader who spent his last days doing what he loved: working diligently for online and adult learning opportunities here and around the world. His accomplishments are many, his networks extensive, and his unfinished business is still at hand."