Online courses are the wave of the future. It’s apparently now official. Well, sort of. The Obama administration originally planned to spend $500 million to help community colleges on develop quality online courses. According to a piece by Marc Parry at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Pressed for details on Monday, Hal Plotkin, a senior policy adviser in the U.S. Education Department, confirmed that the specific plan to spend $500-million on online courses was stripped out of the [student loan reform] bill. And “to my knowledge,” he said, the bill that passed doesn’t explicitly mention open, online courses.

“As the White House blog accurately states, however, this legislation does enable us to move forward with our plans related to open online courses,” Mr. Plotkin said in an e-mail message.

In an interview, Mr. Plotkin confirmed one other tidbit that emerged during the conference. The Hewlett foundation, the dominant philanthropic player in open education, has entered into a formal agreement with the Education Department. “The department has accepted a gift of consulting services from the Hewlett foundation, which allows the foundation to provide us with advice and information as we move forward in this area,” Mr. Plotkin said.

So online education might not come from the federal government, but it still might come from Hewlett. This isn’t exactly a game changing move but who knows what Hewlett might be able to do with their consulting donation.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer