The Curriculum and Education Policy Committee (CEP) recently proposed a revision to the College’s transfer credit policy that would allow departments to start awarding credit for online courses. The CEP’s proposal is progressive for a college that just introduced online course registration this year. Courses taken online are often viewed as antithetical to the small, interactive learning environment of a liberal arts school. Bowdoin values the close interaction between professor and student, and frequently boasts of its low student-to-faculty ratio. However, it is time to acknowledge that scholarly work can be accomplished through web-based classes.
While it is unlikely that many students will take online courses in addition to Bowdoin curricula, this allowance would enable students taking leaves of absence to earn credit while away from campus. Students on leave—medical or otherwise—often enroll in several classes, either to prove they are capable of completing academic work or to avoid falling behind in their degree progress. Not all students have access to an institution of higher learning while away; online courses provide an alternative.
The proposal would give departments the authority to determine whether an online course meets the high standards of the College, and we are confident that online courses would be held to the same scrutiny as any others. That is why the CEP proposal would neither threaten the College’s commitment to classroom learning, nor diminish the quality of a Bowdoin education. What it would do is provide further academic options to Bowdoin students—particularly those who need them the most. We encourage faculty to vote in favor of this proposal.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Erica Berry, Nora Biette-Timmons, Garrett Casey, Ron Cervantes, Marisa McGarry, Sam Miller and Kate Witteman.