Who Should I Contact About Online Learning Broward College

Broward College has taken a lot of heat recently. Their Website was down, their Facebook page was hacked, and some have the idea that Broward Colleges is not trustworthy.

The following is an open letter to the people who have put out concerns.

I would like to thank all of the concerned students and alumni of Broward College who, in response to my blog post on October 27, contacted me and provided input.

Some took this opportunity to send me email addresses and cell phone numbers. I would like to acknowledge your outreach.

Some spoke to this issue at small meetings or by phone. I would like to thank them for their interest in the plight of Broward College and the passing of policies that will steer students away from our county’s largest higher education institution.

While everyone was kind and supportive, some wanted to take action, write letters, and fax items of value.

As I have said repeatedly, my role is to listen to you. The issues raised by you were serious but not alarmist, as your concerns were not focused on physical safety. Instead, they centered on quality of life at the college.

Students had received complaints from their instructors that online learning was shorter than other courses, that their instructors were not given enough credit for their work, and that faculty were increasingly reluctant to teach. Some were dissatisfied with the pace of online learning and their performance. They were concerned about the “bundling” of courses in such a way that students and their families could receive different courses at different prices.

Their objections centered on academic integrity and integrity of the service, not an issue of physical safety at BCCC. The fears of physical danger are unwarranted. Our online experiences have been extraordinarily safe. Instances of cyberbullying are low. The number of black and Hispanics who have found their way to a BCCC online course is higher than that of white students.

Moreover, as indicated in the blog post on October 27, the increased diversity of this online experience demonstrates the educational possibilities of technology.

I commend the college’s president, T. K. Wetherell, for focusing on its student success, and I look forward to working with him to develop courses that will not only increase the degree of student success but enhance the integrity of the entire experience.

Online courses at BCCC are not, and have never been, a “direct” threat to physical safety. I have had several students tell me their experiences are as safe as that of their physical classroom. These students have noted that the quality of their experience in a virtual classroom is higher than that of the classroom and, with a few problems, it is equivalent.

The online learning experience does offer a great deal of convenience for working parents. That is one of the many benefits. This benefit could be amplified through packaging the various educational options that our community offers. For example, a parent who is working or taking time off from work because of a sick or disabled child can use technology to extend a semester in the classroom, while at the same time getting their child more easily into the online classes that are available. BCCC has the options to cater to this need.

As I indicated in my blog, the Higher Education Commission’s rules, and the actions of President Wetherell and the college administration, provide a “range of courses available at distance learning rates that would require a teacher with at least three years of pre-professional experience.” While Broward College can offer online courses at cheaper rates, making the courses more difficult to meet under the Higher Education Commission’s standards would not be in the best interest of a student or their family.

These same policies, in addition to a number of other steps taken at BCCC over the past several years, are being employed at the colleges in New York and across the country. Unfortunately, our students’ concerns did not receive the attention that they deserved, and their faith in higher education was shaken. It would be good for all concerned if the message that was conveyed from Broward College could be passed on to all other colleges in the country.

We look forward to working with the students, students’ families, faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure the overall success of our students.

I assure you that I am committed to securing the educational services of Broward College for the students in our area who want it.

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