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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeEarlier this week I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Distance Education Coordinators’ annual retreat, sponsored by the California Community Colleges Distance Education Coordinators Organization (CCC DECO).

It was amazing to talk with so many DE leaders from across the system, all in the same room, and to hear about the incredible innovation happening at each college.

One of the recurring themes of my conversations involved the platforms and student success resources provided by the OEI. Hearing the stories of how colleges are leveraging resources like Quest for Success, online tutoring, and the online counseling platform was inspiring.

Additionally, LeBaron Woodyard, Dean of Academic Affairs for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), presented recent data on the highly significant growth in online student success rates and the number of sections offered fully online. According to CCCCO data, 57,883 online course sections were offered across our system in 2015-16 (the latest data available). That translates to over 796,000 unduplicated students taking at least one online class. In short, one in three CCC students now takes at least one online class.

Online Outcomes Improving

Perhaps more inspiring was that over the past seven years, the gap between face-to-face and online student success rates has been closing, down from 12 percent to now 6 percent statewide (using 2015-16 data, the most recent available). This is a significant improvement. And the most recent RP Group OEI Outcomes Report found that, for OEI pilot courses, that gap has decreased further on average – to approximately 4 percent. While the RP data is preliminary, we anticipate that the upward trend in success rates will continue.

What all of this demonstrates is the power of systemwide collaboration. We are at our best as a system when we are methodical in sharing resources, effective practices, and working toward a common goal.

Blueprint For Success

Through the OEI, we have come together collectively as a system to find a common voice in support of online course quality, to leverage our collective purchasing power, and to build an online course exchange that exemplifies sharing between colleges at a core level. This is a blueprint for success going forward – working together to lift all boats through systemwide collaboration.

As our system continues to invest in online education, we should continue to explore new ways of working together that generate even more positive outcomes while building upon the foundation of collaboration and trust established through the OEI.

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