Fla. education council discusses online learning

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - College junior DeJa-Nique Frierson hates history.

To better suit her learning style, she took the course online.

"I'm able to work at my own pace," Frierson said.

Four out of 10 college students in Florida have taken at least one class over the Internet. Statewide there are more than 600 degrees offered completely online.

"Florida is actually a national leader in online learning," said Randy Goin, of the University System's Board of Governors.

On Friday, the Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council discussed options for expanding online learning. A previous plan to create a standalone state university for all online classes was scrapped.

"Folks are actually now less interested in the idea of a standalone, brand new, from-scratch online university," Goin said.

The council could recommend appointing one school to take the lead in online learning. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett says any type of expansion would save tax dollars.

"This is really an educational economics question in many ways, and I think there is probably no better way to do it," Bennett said.

But not all classes work well online. Frierson said she took PE online, but she didn't have to do any exercises.

Before the state moves forward with the expansion, the Legislature and Board of Governors will further study their options.

The board will meet in Gainesville next Wednesday to continue the conversation. The issue will also be brought before state lawmakers.

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