Mountain View Voice

News - July 19, 2013

National education panel includes FH-DA chancellor

Head of community college district to contribute to discussion on future of higher learning

by Nick Veronin

The chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District has been selected to serve as one of 14 college and university administrators on a panel organized by the American Council on Education.

FHDA Chancellor Linda Thor will be part of the Presidential Innovation Lab — so named because it comprises presidents and chancellors of universities from around the country.

The Presidential Innovation Lab will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the future of education in the 21st Century, and will pay close attention to the emerging higher educational model of massive open online courses, or "MOOCs."

MOOCs allow colleges and universities to reach a much larger group of students at a much lower cost. According to a press release, Thor's group aims to come up with a strategy for communicating the benefits of MOOCs to lawmakers, education officials and the community at large in the hopes of paving the way toward a future where those who wish to learn online will have more options.

The lab will also work spreading information on alternative learning models and new college financing arrangements with the ultimate goal of making higher education more accessible.

"It's important that a well-respected organization such as ACE provide leadership in sorting out the many complex issues associated with the phenomenon of MOOCs," Thor said in the press release, noting that massive open online courses are relatively new and that the growing practice warrants a national discussion.

Thor has long been interested and active in the realm of online learning models and innovative approaches to higher education. During the two decades she served as president of Arizona's Rio Salado College, she constantly pushed the institution to grow its online course offerings. And Foothill-De Anza district, which Thor joined in 2010, was the first community college district in the state to offer online courses.

Thor is one of two top administrators from a community college on the panel. The rest of the presidents and chancellors on the panel are from universities and private colleges.

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