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Hello colleagues!

The summer is usually a little less fast-paced for educators than it is during the regular school year. For those of us working on the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI), that has NOT been the case! The many parts to this complex project have kept us hopping all through July.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been to the Coastline Summer Institute, the Curriculum Institute, meetings at Foothill College and at the Chancellor’s Office, with countless online and phone meetings filling in between trips. Since March, I have gone from no status to having achieved Companion Pass status with Southwest airlines, if that gives you an idea of my schedule lately!

The great news is that there is much enthusiasm up and down the state for the opportunities that the OEI can bring us. Blending so many voices into harmony is not an easy task and the many smart minds of our system deserve to be heard, so issues tend to take some time to resolve. I once told a colleague who was new to our system that collaboration takes time to accomplish, so, if you want to get things done quickly, don’t bring in other ideas. However, if you want something great, you need to take the time to listen to many ideas.

OEI Forging Ahead

With that in mind, our steering committee will meet for the day on Aug. 1, and it is shaping up to be an interesting day.

We will be discussing the selection process for the pilot colleges, launch dates for the OEI pilot courses, developing of the OEI College Consortium, integrity issues regarding procurement processes and more. We will announce the pilot colleges in the following week.

That said, work is continuing on many fronts with only a few mentioned below:

  • The online student readiness solutions that we hope to pilot in Spring 2015 are being designed now.
  • Course review processes are being solidified now and should begin as Fall semesters start across the state.
  • Online tutoring solutions are being considered now and will begin to be piloted in Spring 2015.
  • The common course management procurement process is underway as the request for information (RFI) process moves to the development of a process for getting out the request for proposals (RFP).

What Does CSU Change Mean For Us?

Many of you have been asking about the turn of events in the CSU system last week. The CSU’s online education project shifted from being a separate program marketing under a unique brand to offering support for coordinated technology approaches to academic instruction.

The CSU program was an entrepreneurial one as characterized by the stated goal, which Inside Higher Ed quoted from the draft RFP: “The goal of Cal State Online is to create a standardized, centralized, comprehensive business, marketing and outreach support structure for all aspects of online program delivery for the Cal State University System.”

Phil Hill, on the e-Literate blog, gives a clear view of the change in the CSU Online project: “Cal State Online will no longer be a separate operating entity, and the remnant, or “re-visioned” services will be run by the existing Academic Technology Services department within the Chancellor’s Office.”

The OEI model is fundamentally different in that we are creating access for students to classes aimed at helping them complete their core academic goals. Having the purpose of creating avenues for student completion and strengthening student success in online courses gives our project a good foundation. Our project is not focused on making money, or about being a separate entity. It’s about making our online programs effective for all California Community Colleges students. There is a good blog post about this on the e-Literate blog.

What does the change at CSU do for us? It gives us more opportunity to learn from other systems trying to provide for centralized services.

Looking forward!

Pat James is Executive Director of the
California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI).