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Educational technology consultant Phil Hill facilitates discussion at the first meeting of the Online Education Initiative Consortium.Representatives from 23 of the 24 Online Education Initiative (OEI) pilot colleges met in Sacramento Oct. 21 to begin the consortium that will focus on increased access to online education for California Community Colleges (CCC) students.

This first meeting was facilitated by OEI Director of Strategic Planning and Operations John Makevich with the assistance of Phil Hill, the consultant who led the OEI Common Course Management System (CCMS) Committee in its final decision-making process last February. It was an important start toward formalizing the ability of students to access online courses across the state.

The group discussed a variety of topics related to making the OEI Course Exchange possible. A highlight of the day was the reporting out of faculty who had been through the course review process earlier this year. All seven of the faculty members enthusiastically endorsed the process that is faculty-driven and facilitated by the @ONE professional development project. They agreed that having someone impartial and not focused on evaluation but instead focused proactively on alignment with the OEI Quality Course Design Rubric was an important experience toward making their courses exceptional.

Additionally, full resources from the OEI were discussed in light of the experience the group has had through the last two semesters. The group also created work groups to address issues across the consortium such as communication and charter revision.

OEI Advisory Body

The pilot OEI Consortium is an advisory body to the OEI management team, providing guidance and recommendations on OEI operational and technical matters.

The pilot consortium group, composed of representatives of the 24 OEI pilot colleges, consults with appropriate leadership at the respective institutions and makes initial decisions regarding the responsibilities and benefits of membership going forward. The pilot consortium is building the framework for what will ultimately become the CCC OEI Consortium. At this writing, the consortium’s focus is on preparation to launch the pilot of the OEI Course Exchange in Fall 2016.

Similar to the OEI Steering Committee, the OEI Consortium authorizes the formation of work groups to gather information and develop recommendations in designated issues and topics. For example, the OEI Consortium initiated a Charter Work Group to create the official document for the governance of this committee. The OEI Consortium may also authorize the formation of joint work groups that involve both policy and operational topics related to the reciprocity agreements needed to accomplish the course exchange component of the initiative.

Focus On Reciprocity

Only member colleges in the OEI Consortium will have the opportunity to participate in the OEI Course Exchange when it becomes available. The consortium provides a legal mechanism to allow for many of the reciprocity needs of the OEI Course Exchange. For example, enrolled units may be combined across colleges that are members of a consortium for purposes of determining student financial aid eligibility. Without colleges agreeing to this and many other reciprocity issues, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for students to seamlessly register for courses across colleges.

Upon completion of the fall pilot, the consortium members will be able to review, analyze and offer recommendations for revision of the processes before going forward to opening the exchange to the system as a whole.

The next OEI Consortium meeting is scheduled to take place in Sacramento on Dec 11.

For more information about the OEI Course Exchange and the Consortium, see the blog post, OEI Updates: Increasing Access To Education.

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