California community college course exchange launches to aid students in graduating

California introduced the nation’s largest community college course exchange with 113 academic institutions.

Students at all levels are stuck if the classes they need aren’t available at their college. Some even wait until the following semester to enroll. To help students get the credits they need, California Community Colleges (CCC), the nation’s largest structure with 113 academic institutions, launched a course exchange. In this program, students at one campus can take classes (online or in-class) at another campus if those courses are not available at their home college.

Jared Stein, the vice president of Higher Education Strategy was very optimistic about the CCC course exchange in an interview.

“If you can open up windows for faculty to get a glimpse of what other faculty are doing,” Stein said. “You’re going to see sparks of innovation.”

In the last 10 years, state budget cuts forced California’s community colleges to turn down about 600,000 students. In an effort to stop shutting out students, California began building a collaborative program, Online Education Initiative (OEI), in late 2013. OEI enables CCC students to sign up for online courses at another CCC without having reapply for financial aid or enroll at the other college.

Offering online courses doesn’t guarantee students with access will succeed, so in addition to the course, classes on the exchange incorporate counseling and online tutoring to help students.

Lorraine DeMello, a College Success counselor at Skyline College, had become familiar with this initiative in order to try to ensure the student’s success with these programs.

“At Skyline College,” DeMello said, “we are looking at our distance education courses and have integrated the OEI rubric as a way to ensure that we are meeting standards that support student success.”

DeMello also stated that any initiative that can potentially provide equitable outcomes for students and increase student success are positive and necessary.

Based on student’s reactions, the point of the launch is to make getting an education more efficient.

“I think it’s cool because you’re not limited to the classes at your college,” Jesse Lake said, second semester student at Skyline. “It should help students who want to graduate in two years.”

Some colleges will pilot 20 courses, with five seats per section, permitting a small-scale testing of the program. The program will begin in the Winter 2017 quarter and follow through the Spring quarter.

Jory Hadsell, executive director of OEI, put a lot of time into creating services that would be available to students in order to help their success.

“It’s an intentionally small launch,” Hadsell said. “We want to crawl before we walk.”

To test out the course exchange, CCC is set to launch the OEI program at the following colleges:

  • Butte College
  • Coastline College
  • Foothill College
  • Fresno City College
  • Lake Tahoe Community College
  • Mt. San Jacinto College
  • Shasta College
  • Ventura College

OEI plans to expand college participation for exchange courses in Spring 2018. From there, the goal is to aide students in finishing their degrees through online courses.