The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 21, 2012

Online courses draw scrutiny

NORMAN — The Chronicle of Higher Education is widely read in the academic world and carries a big stick among college and university administrators. A recent report in the publication suggests short-term, online courses at Western Oklahoma State College in Altus are being abused as an easy way to keep athletes academically eligible for competition and as a revenue boost to the college.

The story was the subject of a less-than-positive National Public Radio program on Monday afternoon. The Chronicle reporter interviewed said athletes learned of the online courses through their coaches.

Western State says its online revenue was closer to $500,000 than the $2 million suggested by the Chronicle. In any event, the college welcomes a visit from its accrediting board.

Western State is not the only school benefiting from online course technology. Its courses may be more popular because of the cost rather than for the ease of passage. Higher education costs in most states have risen significantly more than those in Oklahoma.

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