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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeThe months of July and August provide some terrific opportunities to get insights into how California’s community colleges are leveraging Canvas as the centerpiece of a robust online education ecosystem targeted at bringing student support front and center into the online learning experience.

To date, 108 of the 114 colleges have formally signified their intent to adopt Canvas, joining a movement toward systemwide collaboration in using a common course management system.

This allows for tremendous opportunities to leverage support resources that connect to Canvas in ways that previously could be difficult for colleges to do on their own.

This approach of online holistic student support, facilitated by the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI), aims to significantly boost retention and success in online courses and expand access to online education opportunities across California. The early data show that this approach is paying off.

According to a recent report by the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group), which looked at the latest data available (2015-16): “In online course sections that piloted OEI support services during 2015-16, the average student success rate was 68.8 percent — 2.9 percentage points higher than the overall online course success rate at the pilot colleges, and 3.9 percentage points higher than the average online course success rate statewide.” Read the report here (PDF).

This analysis, while still preliminary, also shows that the largest gains in student success were for online students who were part of a Puente or Umoja cohort – indicating that the wrap-around support services model may have a significant role in lessening the so-called “online achievement gap.”

OEI Ecosystem Presented At InstructureCon

This week, faculty and staff from the CCC joined together at InstructureCon, the annual Canvas user conference sponsored by Instructure, the parent company of Canvas. In addition to product announcements and insights into the Canvas development roadmap, attendees also network with other Canvas users and may choose from a variety of workshops aimed at sharing effective practices.

Student success was front and center, and the OEI team presented on our online ecosystem that includes core services to connect students with online learning readiness self-assessments, tutors, counselors, academic integrity tools, library resources and more. By working with outstanding partners to help colleges provide access to these key resources and services for students in a way that integrates with the online classroom, our collective students have better access along their educational pathway.

CCC Canvas Users Converge At Can*Innovate

On Aug. 14, our first CCC Canvas User’s Group will convene for a day of collaboration and sharing of best practices at the Can*Innovate Conference, hosted at American River College in Sacramento. This is an opportunity for hundreds of participants from our system to come together and build more cross-college collaboration and engage in professional development activities, providing new insights and expertise as attendees return home to their colleges.

In addition to a deep presence by the Canvas team from Instructure, other OEI partners will be on hand to provide information about the ecosystem components. Through a partnership with CollegeBuys and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the OEI has been able to provide deep discounting to any CCC campus wishing to utilize these services.

Hopefully representatives from your college have the opportunity to participate in some of these exciting activities. More Canvas User’s Group conferences are being planned for various locales around the state. The level of collaboration taking place in our system around online education right now is unprecedented. By continuing this collaboration, we can help to address the systemwide goals of increasing access, graduating and transferring more students, and closing the achievement gap for our collective students.

Jory Hadsell, EdD, is Executive Director of
the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative