The push by the Kansas Board of Regents to force state universities to accept all community college general education courses not only ignores faculty decisions on course quality, but also places Kansas students in the position of taking courses that will not apply toward graduate school. The problem: online courses hide under regular course numbers.
More and more U.S. schools of pharmacy, medicine and nursing are stating: "We do not accept online coursework." As these advanced programs experience the first generation of online students and their lack lab skills, more are refusing to accept so-called "online laboratory courses."
The K.U. School of Pharmacy, along with schools of pharmacy at the University of Colorado Denver, University of Southern California, and many others reject online labs. Some extend their exclusion of online courses to all math and pre-pharmacy courses. The Texas Tech University School of Allied Health Sciences Physicians Assistant program accepts no online science courses.
The reason is explained by the University of California system: "...Online lab science courses will not be approved unless they include a supervised wet lab component. Since UC has not seen computer software that adequately replicates the laboratory experience, computer simulated labs and lab kits will not be acceptable."
But some Kansas schools have placed their "labs" online. An online Kansas consortium even sends a lab-in-a-box each week to its "distance learners" enrolled in a microbiology "lab." Kansas taxpayers who have underwritten hi-tech campus microbiology labs with expensive DNA analyzers to train the next generation of scientists should be appalled at this "lab-in-a-box" substitute.
Online classes in the visual and performing arts are likewise questionable.
Again the California faculty policy details the concerns: "Online visual and performing arts (VPA) courses will not be approved because it is difficult for students taking online courses to experience the required performance component of performance arts courses and/or replicate the expected portfolio component of visual arts courses. UC faculty believes that performance is a necessary component of any performance arts course. Whether it is a course in band, choir, drama, dance, or painting/drawing the immediate feedback and coaching of an instructor (e.g., adjusting the toe point of a dancer, correcting the musical intonation of a student musician, advising greater voice projection for a student actor, or demonstrating correct technique for a student artist) is a critical and necessary component of any course."
Unfortunately, there is a big difference between the commonsense of faculty and student families, and some educational policymakers. In a survey just released in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a full 51 percent of college presidents thought online courses were the future while only 29 percent of the general population agreed. A survey of faculty by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities found 70 percent of faculty members believed online courses to be inferior or somewhat inferior when compared with face-to-face instruction.
Unfortunately, the KBOR’s push to require acceptance of all Kansas community college general education courses means that regents schools will have to accept bogus science labs and performance courses. These courses will then be rejected by many advanced programs nationwide.
The problem is that online courses generally hide inside the same course numbers and names of bonafide face-to-face courses. If online advocates want to assert that their science labs and performance courses are just as good as face-to-face courses, it is only fair to student "customers" that the online courses be clearly named up front and separately numbered as "online" on the transcripts.
Students who want to pursue advanced coursework should be able to show that their courses were face-to-face bonafide on their transcripts. And regents schools should not be forced to accept online courses in general education articulation when those courses will not be accepted by advanced programs.