A UCLA student writes in opposition to the proposed online UC Berkeley degree. He talked to the director of an online engineering program at UCLA.

… Christopher Lynch, director of the UCLA Master of Science in Engineering Online Program, said that distance students can get to the same level of understanding concepts as traditional students, but that the department spends much more money per student to achieve this goal.

The department hired a teaching assistant and professor as consultants to provide support for distance learners, who are unable to approach professors after lecture or go to office hours as traditional students are. This would be a similar situation for undergraduates because face-to-face interaction is an important part of the university experience.

To maintain a UC-level education, many faculty members will have to be hired for support positions, costing the university millions. If this faculty is not hired, the UC online campus will not provide a UC-level education.

He notes a variety of other disadvantages, among them:

Skipping class and cheating by having another student take an exam become easier as attendance, participation and identity verification are difficult, if not impossible over the Internet.

Another UCLA professor comments.

“This would severely hurt the reputation and prestige of a degree and call into question the (UC’s) commitment to undergraduate education,” said Robert Samuels, a lecturer in the UCLA Writing Program who taught a hybrid online and offline course last spring.

According to Samuels, there are ways to incorporate technology in the classroom, but a fully online degree has no place at a prestigious research university.

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Costs more.

But only costs more if you care about maintaining quality. If you don’t care, it probably costs less.

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