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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeWith fall courses underway across the state, and a return to limited parking and crowded hallways, we in the California Community Colleges (CCC) are reminded of the need to serve students as effectively and efficiently as possible.

No system of higher education serves the number of diverse students and aligns resources to increase access and provide opportunities for success to the degree that the CCC does.

With regard to online education, this system has shown leadership through the early work done by pioneering online faculty, the statewide efforts such as the California Virtual Campus (CVC), and a relentless focus on professional development for faculty teaching online. The result is that the CCC offers a rich set of online learning opportunities for students, and this has helped to increase access for literally millions of students since the early 2000s.

Student-Centered, Integrated Ecosystem

The CCC Online Education Initiative (OEI), born in 2013, has brought renewed resources, energy and coordination to the CCC. Through systemwide collaboration, colleges are adopting shared platforms, such as the Canvas common course management system, tutoring, counseling and academic integrity platforms. This student-centered, integrated ecosystem approach continues to grow in adoption, and is a model for providing embedded student support while yielding cost-savings and efficiencies in professional development and technology support.

While much progress has been made, there is still more to do. Recently, the CCC Chancellor’s Office (via the Foundation for California Community Colleges) released the Vision for Success: Strengthening the California Community Colleges to meet California’s needs. This document, which frames the systemwide vision ahead, includes bold goals aimed at increasing graduation and transfer rates, reducing equity and achievement gaps, ensuring more Career Technical Education students are employed in their field of study, and decreasing the number of accumulated units students carry before graduation or transfer, among other important items. The strategies outlined in the Vision for Success align to the Guided Pathways framework, which will be a core shift for colleges in our system as we provide intentional and predictable pathways for student success.

Adapting OEI To CCC Vision

With the system gearing up to implement the Vision for Success and Guided Pathways, it is critical that all of the statewide projects work together to create a clear and straightforward student experience. In that vein, I have asked the OEI Advisory Committee to engage in visioning around how we might adapt the OEI policy goals to complement the systemwide goals and to provide more clarity for online students. In the coming weeks, the project staff and Advisory Committee will engage in dialogue aimed at providing clarified goals for OEI platforms and integrations.

Areas that come to mind include looking for ways to scale up the Course Exchange by leveraging integrated pathways or “bridge” opportunities, making these more visible to students, looking at how to more tightly link open online sections to the CVC catalog, and ensuring that platforms like Canvas, Quest for Online Success, Cranium Café, NetTutor, VeriCite and Proctorio tie into the larger data stream for the system, alongside other data sources like Open CCCApply, and CCC MyPath.

California has taken a leadership position through the Online Education Initiative. Through an integrated approach to student access and success, the CCC is well positioned to continue moving the needle positively on online student success, access and equity.

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