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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeHello! It’s surprising how quickly these months go by. It’s also hard to imagine that in only two and a half months, I will be turning over the job of Executive Director of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) to someone else.

I have so enjoyed working on this initiative with all of the fantastic people who are putting their energies into creating a well-resourced online education environment for the students of California.

Executive Director Transition

I have mixed feelings about leaving my job but I have no concerns about who will be taking it on. Dr. Jory Hadsell, currently OEI Chief Academic Officer, will be starting in his new role on Dec. 19, 2016, and I will be ending my term as ED on Jan. 6, 2017. I hope to be able to assist Jory and his team in any way that I can as they move forward from here.

Jory has worked very hard these past couple of years to not only build the components of the initiative, but to become an excellent distance education leader in our system. He understands the complexities of the job and is more than ready to assume the lead role. I know that you will be pleased with how he leads the initiative through the upcoming intricate implementation processes.

Jory Hadsell, CCC Online Education Initiative, presents at WCET Annual Meeting, October 2016.His work on procuring a variety of resources this last year has been exceptional and the result is that we are saving the state a considerable amount of money while providing high quality resources for students, faculty and colleges. He has integrity, a strong grasp of our community college system and a sense of humor. All three qualities are essential in the ED role.

I’ll save my thanks and reflections on my time in the job for another time, but I am really pleased and confident about Jory taking over the reins and I am looking forward to a little rest!

With the changing of the guard comes the opportunity to assess what we have accomplished in the 28 months since our permanent team was hired.

Funding Update

We started with $16.9 million for the first year, with $10 million ongoing funds. In 2016, we received recognition for our work from the state with an additional $20 million as a one-time augmentation. We are also pursuing ongoing additional funds to cover the full cost of Canvas for the system.

Resources (Ecosystem)

With the help of the CCC Technology Center and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, we have brokered statewide licenses for Canvas, Link-Systems International Tutoring Services, VeriCite, Proctorio, Smarter Measure and Cranium Café.

Online Learning Support Ecosystem: CCC Online Education InitiativeWe’ve built 11 online student readiness modules, created course design standards, implemented (with @ONE) Canvas training, training in how to teach online and in how to counsel students online. We’ve also implemented and revised a course review process and trained more than 400 faculty members in a variety of areas related to online teaching and learning.

In partnership with the Chancellor’s Office Telecommunications and Technology Infrastructure Program (TTIP) South, we also provided the seed money for the Professional Learning Network and helped procure Zoom e-conferencing services. We started a counseling network and an on-ground proctoring network, and have faculty discipline groups working on teaching strategies (soon to be increased). We also support the Online Teaching Conference, which this year had more than 800 attendees. All of these resources can be found on our website at


The OEI Exchange Consortium was started and now has 24 colleges participating. The consortium has developed reciprocity agreements, considered next steps in courses and colleges adding into the exchange, and provided invaluable insight into what is happening at their colleges throughout implementing the exchange component of the OEI.

Our steering committee is doing great work and is essential to giving us the necessary feedback on our proposed projects and policies. They created a guide for using third-party course materials, revised the course design standards, served on work groups to select the common course management system, Canvas, and continue to work on making our instances of Canvas better. They also assist with procuring most of the third-party tools we are now using, and developed the content for the online counseling course. They are now working on developing strategies for achieving equity in online learning environments and for developing culturally responsive teaching online.

The BIG Ones:

Canvas Adoption

It’s amazing that 92 of our independently minded colleges have committed to adopting a common course management system, Canvas, which will allow for so much collaboration to take place. They have done so in support of the philosophy that a student in California is a student we are all responsible for. The state’s economy, and maybe the health of the planet, depends on educating our citizens and we are all about doing that together.

Project Glue

The accomplishments of the developers and directors at the Technology Center are enormous. The creation of the Course Exchange mechanism is a feat in itself, but the establishment of the College Adaptor is a game changer for our entire system.

Being able to securely pass information across different student information systems means that, in the near future, we may be operating with real-time enrollment information. Imagine what that will do for creating responsive learning opportunities for our students through better informed enrollment strategies.

I am sure I’ve missed some stuff that we’ve done, but you get the idea!

Exchange Update

As I consider this update, I want to emphasize that the Course Exchange cross-registration system is only one component of the OEI. There would be no exchange possible without the common course management system, C-ID (common course identification) efforts of the Academic Senate for the CCC, and the supporting resources of the OEI ecosystem.

California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeThe exchange is progressing. We knew that the system would not be developed overnight. As discoveries were made regarding the needed reciprocity agreements and the need for a flexible and well planned digital architectural foundation, timelines became less important than getting it right, and that’s still the case. Make no mistake, what we are doing is really BIG and will allow for streamlining of our work for years to come. It promises to be worth the work and worth the wait.

We are finding that as the launch dates approach, the details and tasks multiply! Counting down the registration and go-live dates with the work details attached has kept us all incredibly busy. I also now have a bit of understanding for what NASA designers must have felt as their first rocket lifted into space, namely, excitement coupled with anxiety!

Abundance Of Courage

I am reminded of a quote by Madisyn Taylor:

“When new challenges and opportunities show up in our lives, we may diagnose ourselves as feeling scared when what we really feel is excited. Often we have not been taught how to welcome the thrill of a new opportunity, and so we opt to back off, indulging our anxiety instead of awakening our courage.”

We are all being courageous in putting this initiative forward. As I see it, there is an abundance of courage among the members of the California Community Colleges family. Who better than us to take bold steps?

As I have said from the beginning, building the infrastructure for cross-college registration processes is a complex job. Our pilot colleges are experiencing initiative fatigue due to the demands on IT and other departments in implementing our project, in addition to the Common Assessment Initiative, Open CCCApply, eTranscript California, and more. We are doing our best to be flexible and help as much as we can so that colleges can meet the needs of their own campuses and our initiatives, as well.

Change is usually difficult in the thick of it, but the benefits of having our students be able to complete their goals in a reasonable amount of time, as well as the ability we will have to see our own enrollment data in real time (via the College Adaptor extending communication across disparate student information systems) are huge!

Our OEI team is incredibly grateful to those of you working within the pilot colleges and we do not take your efforts for granted. As we ramp up to winter/spring terms, we will be contacting colleges regularly to assess their accomplishments and their needs in making the exchange a reality for our students.

Press & Interesting Tidbits

We have received some interesting press lately as follows (I do wish the emphasis was on the ecosystem rather than only on the exchange, but these are good):

Forbes Article: California’s New Playbook for Online Education

Inside Higher Ed: The California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative will debut this fall

Community College Daily: Building Course Exchanges

Some of us attended the WCET Annual Meeting last week and were treated to some great sessions. I was in a session about change management. If you are interested in hearing some of the comments visit the Twitter feed.

Thanks for reading this far!


Pat James is Executive Director of
the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative

CCC TechEDge News and CCC Technology for Student Success News ceased publication in 2018.

Produced by the CCC Technology Center under a grant from the CCC Chancellor's Office, both publications are archived on this website.