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Online State University

January 7th, 2013 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

Florida leads the nation in online education. Four out of every 10 Florida college students have taken at least one online course. There are 700 degrees programs available entirely online and now, as Whitney Ray tells us, there’s a push in Tallahassee to create a state university existing completely in cyberspace.

This laptop is the only tool FSU Freshman Seth Russell needs to complete one of his main courses this semester.

“Having an online class frees up a lot of time for other classes,” said Russell.

For the second consecutive semester Seth is taking an online class. It allows him to learn from home at his own leisure.

“It’s really convenient, just pull up my laptop. I don’t have to walk to class,” said Russell.

Florida leads the way offering more than 700 degrees online and thousands of classes.

The University System Board of Governors is exploring the creation of a state university existing completely in cyberspace.

“It’s not about keeping everybody online it’s about getting the state in a position to have the best online modality experience,” said Robert Lytle with Parthenon Group.

The board hired a research group, which priced the creation of an online state university at 70 million dollars.

And even though there’s a hefty upfront cost, in the long run the move could save the state and students money.

Ed Moore, the president of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, says how much savings depends on the quality of the product offered.

“It depends on the institution. It depends on the degree program. It depends on the market. A lot of it is market driven,” said Moore.

Moore is against the state creating a new online university. He says creating an oversight board would be quicker and cheaper.

“My mantra is to use the assets that Florida already has first and then figure out what else we need,” said Moore.

The state legislature will also review the options when it convenes in March. Creating a stand alone state university is just one of four options being considered. The state could appoint one university to take the lead on online, encourage collaboration among the schools or just focus on improving online course at all Florida colleges.

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