Blog: The Educated Reporter

Seen any good coverage of online learning lately?

I’m always trying to get higher ed reporters to write about online classes, given how common they have become and how mysterious they are to us fuddy-duddies. (Can one be a fuddy-duddy before 40? The case against: I have an iPhone, and I’ve watched every minute of “America’s Next Top Model.” The case for: I just suggested having an iPhone and watching “America’s Next Top Model” makes me youthful.)

Problem is, telling people to write about online courses feels a lot like telling people to eat their spinach. Well, spinach is transformative when flash-fried and dressed with tamarind, yogurt and tomatoes, and journalism on distance learning should be unboring too. So at the APLU conference this week, when I had to choose between two simultaneous sessions, one on veterans and one on learning, I picked the latter. After all, ten times as many college students are taking courses online as are expected to take advantage of the GI Bill.

And it was … too spinachey. The most interesting thing was the bird flying through the conference room. I went next door to the veterans session and immediately was immersed in story ideas. Nancy Marlin, the provost at San Diego State University, warned we will start seeing lots of problems when veterans drop out and the VA comes after them—not the schools—for all the money paid up front for their education and fees. She warned that enlistees might pay the $1,200 GI Bill contribution up front and then be out of luck if they want to pursue vocational education one day, as that is not covered.

By the way, did you know that the GI Bill does not cover students who take all of their classes online? (I knew I could tie these threads together somehow.) Okay, shoot: What are the most interesting stories you have written or read lately on online courses?


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