California Community Colleges expand online education

California Community College students registering for classes in the spring of 2017 will be able to take advantage of the Online Education Initiative’s Course Exchange, aimed at streamlining the transfer process for community college students across California.

The Online Education Initiative was created in 2014 by the California Community College System in order to increase access to fast-filling, high demand classes that are required for transfer. With the new system, students will be able to complete transfer requirements and receive a transfer degree in a shorter amount of time.

The Online Course Exchange, which was rolled out in the fall 2016 semester to eight initial colleges, will create an online exchange of classes that will make the process for signing up for online classes more efficient.

“This is done via exchange,” said Skyline Distance Education faculty coordinator Bridget Fischer. “So that they can take online courses from other colleges to fulfill required courses that they may not be able to get into because of various constraints.”

Instead of signing up for each class on the website of their respective college, students will now be able to register for multiple classes across multiple community colleges in California all in one place, creating a one-stop shop for online classes.

“[The exchange] will help out a lot of people,” said Skyline College student Luis De Alba, who has taken online classes before. “Especially people who work full time and don’t have time to go to class during the day.”

De Alba’s experience is similar to many students’ across the California Community College system: he attempted to sign up for traditional brick-and-mortar classes, but they were full, and he was forced to sign up for an equivalent course online.

The Online Exchange was created to alleviate the stress of students in De Alba’s exact situation by giving them access to classes at colleges all over the state, and highly increasing their chances of being enrolled.

The Exchange will potentially work to increase the amount of community college students. A report published in 2010 by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Sacramento State University that a shocking 70 percent of community college students in California did not obtain a bachelor’s degree within six years of their original enrollment.

In its current state, the Online Education Initiative’s Course Exchange carries 21 courses, with some overlap between campuses.

The implementation of the OEI is followed by the recent push by Skyline College to move from WebAccess to the Canvas learning management system.

“Skyline College has been involved in the early stages of the adoption process of Canvas as the new LMS,” Fischer said. “The OEI is still in the pilot phase of courses, which has been in a two year process of development.”

It is unclear when Skyline will implement the OEI, but it will have to come after Canvas has been rolled out.

“We are not in the Exchange at this time,” Fischer said. “Use of the OEI rubric for quality courses is being used for Skyline courses that will help position for possible future participation in the Exchange.”