Virginia to Develop Virtual University
Anticipating a boom in statewide college enrollments this decade, Virginia officials are planning a new “virtual” university that would allow students to earn degrees by combining online and traditional course work from colleges and universities around the state. Last month, state officials approved a plan to have the new institution open in 2003.
According to a state spokesman, Virginia Virtual University will award degrees, but not offer courses of its own. The new institution will act as a broker, assisting students in putting earned credits together to earn an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree, says G. Paul Nardo, a spokesman for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. A staff of professors will advise each student individually.
“The Internet is dramatically changing the way people learn. They want it very personalized,” Nardo told The Washington Post.
Virginia’s plan is quite unique among distance-learning ventures across the country, says Frank Mayadas, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program director who specializes in studying and funding online education. The major challenge is not the technology of online course work, already offered by hundreds of U.S. universities, but the coordination required to move academic credits from one institution to another, according to Mayadas.
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