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Bit selective here. McCain was far more radical and progressive in e-learning. He supported expanding virtual learning by reforming the "Enhancing Education Through Technology Program," with an initial $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools and support the development of online course offerings for students. He said he would allocate $250 million to support states that commit to expanding online education opportunities and proposes offering $250 million to help students pay for online tutors or enrol in virtual schools. On top of this low-income students would be eligible to receive up to $4,000 to enrol in an online course, SAT/ACT prep course, credit recovery or tutoring services offered by a virtual provider. Obama has no policies in this area.


Sure, Donald. I guess my point is that on the two particular issues of net neutrality and Internet access as a public utility Obama looks to have things right, and without these two "policy cornerstones", initiatives relating to on-line learning and so on are likely to fail or be less successful.


Since this is a post-election...er...post, I don't think it's fair to accuse Seb of being "selective." He is writing about the President-elect's policies. The policies of the candidate who lost are not all that relevant anymore. Nevertheless, since you brought it up....

It's a mistake to consider the candidates' e-learning programs in isolation from their overall education programs. In general outline, McCain's and Obama's main prescriptions for higher education were similar in outline: Provide tax credits to make education more affordable and make the financial aid application process easier. Unlike McCain, however, Obama provided much more specific promises about the proposed investment (making the first $4,000 of a college education completely free for most Americans, and covering two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and making community college tuition completely free for most students, in return for 100 hours of community service.) Compared to this, McCain's offer of $500 million to e-learning (how much does that add up to per student?) is a drop in the bucket.

Their K12 policies have much more stark contrasts. McCain's centerpiece was the generic Republican effort to gut public education via vouchers. And you have to read his online education initiative in that context. It's not really targeted at higher education. Rather, it's targeted at home schoolers who supplement with some online courses. This is actually an anti-public education proposal. Obama, on the other hand, has a detailed proposal for supporting a wide range of public primary and secondary (and early childhood) education concerns from recruiting and investing in new teachers to beefing up ESL programs.

Likewise, Obama has a much more far-reaching technology policy that, while it isn't addressed specifically at e-learning, will have a huge impact on e-learning in particular and technology in the university in general. Net neutrality, patent reform, and broadband access are three good examples.

As with most policy areas, one of the biggest differences between the two candidates is that McCain tended to offer vague promises punctuated by a few gimmicky point solutions that were intended to paint over the same old conservative agenda to dismantle the government while Obama provided broad, reasonably detailed, and well-integrated comprehensive sets of progressive policies.

Agreed. My point, I suppose, is that there's nothing really innovative in any of Obama's policies in this field. The Homestart stuff has been widely criticised as having been tried and failed. And in being exhaustive, we also need to add Obama's massive support for Charter schools.

Where do you think Obama will send his children to school? A local school or one of Washington's high-end, fee-paying schools?


Donald. If, as seems to be the case, Obama has to speak from behind bullet proof glass, choice of school is not going to be straightforward. So if he manages to avoid the latter (if his kids get to go to school at all.....), I'll be very impressed. Seb

Good point. I take it back.

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