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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeSix Full-Launch pilot colleges of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) are now offering OEI courses in Canvas, while 10 colleges across the state are also in the process of adopting Canvas campuswide.


Meanwhile, the OEI is looking to expand the consortium of pilot colleges that would be part of a Course Exchange, enabling students at one participating college to seamlessly register for online courses at another participating college.

The six pilot colleges that have launched Canvas include Butte College, Coastline Community College, Shasta College, Fresno City College, Mt. San Jacinto College and Ventura College. The two remaining members of the Full-Launch group—Foothill College and Lake Tahoe Community College—are slated to start their Canvas pilots when their fall terms begin Sept. 21.

In all, the eight Full-Launch pilots will encompass 32 OEI course sections and as many as 1,379 students—who will, by virtue of attending a Full-Launch college, have access to all three aspects of the OEI resources: courses in the Canvas common course management system, online tutoring support through NetTutor, and the Online Student Readiness Tutorials, said Steve Klein, Statewide Program Director of the OEI.

Smooth Implementation

“Thus far, piloting of courses in the Canvas environment has gone very well, with minimal support needed for students or faculty,” Klein said. “While some issues have come up, all have been quickly resolved. We are very pleased with the immediate success of students accessing course information and faculty feeling confident in using Canvas to teach their courses.”

All courses currently being taught in Canvas have gone through the review process to meet the standards set out in the OEI Course Design Rubric, and evaluated for quality as well as for meeting accessibility standards, Klein noted.

Implementations involved a team of staff at each college that included the OEI single point of contact, distance education coordinator, faculty, IT director and IT staff, and the course management system administrator. “A combination of all these folks had some role in not only supporting the implementation of Canvas on their campus, but helping faculty be prepared to teach their courses in Canvas effectively.” Klein said.

“Given that these are pilots, we are learning a lot about the integration of resources, deployment of Canvas on a campus and the support needed to be successful,” Klein added. “We will continue to collect information and talk to faculty and staff, so the pilot helps inform our ability to roll this out systemwide according to our timeline.”

10 Adopt Canvas Campuswide

Outside of the pilot, 10 colleges around the system have chosen to adopt Canvas campuswide. That effort is ongoing during the fall term, and involves significant training and support as the colleges’ entire faculty works on migrating courses from the existing systems to Canvas, Klein said.

Of the campuswide adopters, three are also Full-Launch pilot colleges: Coastline, Foothill and Shasta. The seven non-pilot colleges adopting Canvas are:

  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College
  • Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Cabrillo College
  • North Orange School of Continuing Education
  • Los Angeles Pierce College
  • West Hills College Coalinga
  • West Hills College Lemoore

During the transition, the existing course management system continues to operate in parallel with Canvas. Each campus has its own timeline for when they will completely switch over to Canvas, and turn off the old system, Klein explained.

Update On The Course Exchange

Meanwhile, work continues toward building a consortium of pilot colleges that would be part of a Course Exchange, meant to let students seamlessly register for online courses at other participating colleges if a course is not available at their home college.

The Course Exchange is a complex project with many moving parts. In April of this year, the OEI held a Reciprocity Summit at Foothill College, inviting representatives from Admissions and Records, Financial Aid and other student service areas from the eight Full-Launch pilot colleges to engage in a conversation about the establishment of business practices for the Exchange. Information was gathered on key operational steps, Student Information Systems functionality, and policy and practice considerations in order to walk away with the ability to begin initial work on putting the Exchange development in motion.

After the Summit, the key outcomes of the conversation were collected into a document and shared with a working group from the event to help edit and refine the agreements reached. In May, the OEI met with the technology team from the CCC Technology Center to initiate the discussion of building the technology components around the cross-registration business practices. It was quickly discovered that to make the path for students more streamlined and not more complex, adjustments to the timing were needed.

The original timeline called for piloting the Course Exchange with the eight Full-Launch pilot colleges in Spring 2016. However, due to the time it takes to develop the necessary technology tools and to be able to integrate the business processes that would make them work effectively, the difficult decision was made to begin piloting the Exchange component in Fall 2016, instead.

Building A New Consortium

Because of the shift in the timeline for the pilot of the Course Exchange, all 24 pilot colleges will be piloting the same tools and resources in Spring 2016. This affords an opportunity to bring all of the pilot colleges together in one group to help shape the future pilots and implementation of the OEI.

The Full-Launch pilot colleges helped shape the framework of the consortium, putting together initial business practices and strategies that are helping to inform the development of the technology that will run behind the scenes. Next, the OEI will seek to engage in deeper conversation about the operational issues affecting pilot colleges in future terms.

The consortium will allow the participating colleges a collective voice in how and when implementation of OEI services and technologies occur, complemented by the decision-making processes of the OEI Steering Committee. The two governing bodies will continue to work together to help inform the OEI Management Team in the day-to-day work that happens to put everything together for the colleges and for students.

For background on the Exchange and details of the timeline shift, please read the most recent blog post from OEI Executive Director, Pat James, “OEI Updates: Getting Out Of Our Own Way”.

Stay tuned for more information soon regarding the initial meeting of the consortium with the pilot colleges.

John Makevich is Director of Strategic Planning and Operations for the
California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative

Additional reporting by Crista Souza, TechEDge News Editor