Wed June 20, 2012
UW System announces more flexible online classes, degrees
As early as this fall, the University of Wisconsin could be offering online programs of a different sort: ones in which students get credit for real life experience.
UW officials say the new online degree programs will address several education concerns: Only a quarter of Wisconsin residents have a college degree, and those seeking one may lack time, money — or both. UW Extension Chancellor Ray Cross says the online degrees will include, but not be limited to, high demand industries like health, engineering and information technology. The class schedule, unlike that in most schools, will be up to the students, not the school: “Most online courses today, you start when the semester starts. We're trying to make it in a fashion that allows you start anytime you want.”
The UW is still determining how much it will charge for the online classes and doesn't know how much money it will need to start up the program. Much of the cost will be spent on testing people on knowledge gained outside the classroom. Gov. Scott Walker says that if students pass the test, they get credit. He says this system will be more rigorous than that of other colleges that acknowledge real life experience, “This is not just credit because you worked in the job or given field. This is competency-based. So someone will literally have to test if they want to get credit for it, even if they have that experience. They'll have to show it’s not just that they've done it but they can do it well enough to be worthy of a degree or the credits for a degree from the University of Wisconsin System.”
About 20 percent of Wisconsin adults have college credits, but no degree.