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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeIn last month’s issue of TechEDge, I talked about, and walked you through, the impactful work of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) beyond technology, and more specifically about the stakeholders that allow the OEI to be successful in fostering student success.

This month, I am excited to share a few details about the upcoming release of the Online Education Initiative Enrollment, Demographics, and Outcomes Summary 2015-2016 conducted by our independent evaluator, the Research and Planning Group (RP Group). The report shines a spotlight on the great work that can be accomplished when technologists and educators partner to create a movement toward expanded student success and equity.

Generally speaking, the outcomes report serves two main purposes: (1) to describe the measures that will be used to document and report on the initiative’s progress toward its long-term goal over the next few years, and (2) to provide an update on progress toward the OEI objectives. The RP Group used a variety of factors in its analysis which included enrollments, demographics, and success and withdrawal rates – among other metrics – to determine outcomes for 24 OEI pilot colleges in 2015-16.

Measuring The OEI’s Impact

The RP Group also worked closely with key representatives from the OEI to develop important measurable outcomes, which were then grouped into three main areas of impact:

  • Online education delivery: how the quality of online courses and the dedicated faculty who teach them contribute to student retention, persistence and success rates

  • Student success: assessed by if and how online courses and student supports offered through the Online Course Exchange impact student success

  • Institutional efficiencies: measured by looking at simplifications of administrative processes and potential economic benefit resulting from the implementation of the Online Course Exchange

I am pleased to let you know that all three main areas of OEI impact showed improvements.

The analysis reinforces the work of the OEI pilot colleges, faculty, project team and other stakeholders that make our work possible. It should serve as a reminder that as the OEI continues to scale up its services and resources in partnership with participating colleges, more and more online courses will have access to support services and tools that can improve the online teaching and learning experience – further moving the student success needle in the right direction.

Promising Early Indicators

Undoubtedly, the report’s release represents a unique opportunity for policymakers as well as community college faculty, administrators and staff to understand – and support – the work of the OEI. Internally, the OEI will utilize the report’s early promising data to continue expanding on best practices, and continue to build on areas of opportunity to better serve the community colleges.

On behalf of our initiative team and partners, I am proud to see very promising early indicators and look forward to even more dynamic gains in student success as the online education ecosystem continues to mature. The deep partnerships we have formed with pilot college staff and faculty have informed continuous improvements to our processes, platforms and services, and I am grateful to have such dedicated pilot colleges.

Our vendor partners have stepped up as well, recognizing the immense opportunity of serving California’s students, and have made custom improvements based on feedback we have provided from college stakeholders. Having transparent data to validate the work with these initial findings is a project milestone, and I look forward to sharing future progress.

If you would like to review the report, it is available from the OEI website.

Jory Hadsell, EdD, is Executive Director of
the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative