The Online Education Initiative (OEI) is a far-reaching, $57 million state-sponsored project that launched in December 2013. The first allocation was $16.9 million, and $10 million is slated to be forthcoming each year over four more years.
California’s legislature and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office have outlined some specific requirements that the OEI must respond to and meet.
A primary goal of the OEI is to create a sophisticated online education framework that can be utilized by all 112 community colleges in California. Within that framework, key elements of the OEI will include a common course management system, support for transfer degrees online, support for basic skills instruction and facilitating credit by exam, among others.
Comprehensive Online Environment
Overall, the OEI will leverage all the progress to be made by the Common Assessment Initiative (CAI) and Education Planning Initiative (EPI), as well as the critical mass of online courses and programs already in place at California Community Colleges, to provide comprehensive resources to students, faculty and staff system wide.
“The plan is to do it more cost effectively through centralized contracting or procurement or, in some cases, integrating services, such as assessment and orientation, for example,” said Joe Moreau, vice chancellor of Technology for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District and co-executive sponsor of the OEI. “We can build on the success that we already have as a system.
“Some of the main components of the OEI are to essentially establish a consortium and a governance model for how colleges can come together and collaborate and cooperate with each other on how we might expand capacity for online instruction,” Moreau continued. “The grant also has an emphasis on making sure we are doing things that recognize the specific needs of under-represented and under-served populations of students, and making sure we can close the achievement gap between all student demographic groups.”
Initial Task: Course Management System
A consortium is being formed to collaborate on developing a new CCC course management system, among numerous other objectives. The OEI steering committee and work groups are currently collecting and evaluating applications from colleges throughout the state that want to participate in this development.
Consortium members are expected to be announced this summer, and “We anticipate a common course management system to be identified in the fall of this year,” noted Steve Klein, the statewide program manager for the OEI. In addition, there is a student services work group and a faculty professional development work group, along with a prevailing goal to create an environment for students that will enhance and clarify articulation and transfer agreements between all state community colleges and universities.
“We are not operating in a vacuum, and the OEI is certainly not a top-down operation,” added Tim Calhoon, director of the CCC Technology Center and co-executive sponsor of the OEI. He emphasizes that the initiative is highly participatory in nature, with colleges throughout the state ultimately being the decision makers. “The pilot colleges are going to be most affected by the common course management system. They will be the deciders.”
George Lorenzo is a TechEDge contributing writer, and editor and publisher of
The SOURCE on Community College Issues, Trends & Strategies.
George is also president of Lorenzo Associates Inc., a content development service for higher education.