Momentum Builds From Forward-Thinking, Collaborative Culture

Online Education Initiative Executive Director Pat JamesThe months are flying by and we are so busy here in Online Education Initiative (OEI) land. I keep thinking that things will slow down as we solidify the initiative components, but it seems they are picking up speed instead! Everyday there is a success that is followed by a new challenge, and so the building of the initiative continues.

We are finding there are many aspects of the California Community Colleges (CCC) culture that allow us to collaborate beautifully across the system. For example, tapping into work that has been done with common identification of core courses across our curriculum has set the stage for clean articulation efforts within the exchange components of the project. Another example is the willingness of Distance Education (DE) Coordinators to share policies and ideas with each other.

Finally, we have some projects within our system that are set up to participate in this kind of effort as though we knew years ago that we would do this some day (i.e. @ONE, CCCConfer, 3CMedia, the Foundation for CCC, and the CCC Technology Center at Butte College). Wait… we did know. The early efforts of the California Virtual College set the stage for us and I will always be grateful to those folks who participated so whole-heartedly then.

Here are updates on a few things the OEI team has been working on:

The Course Exchange

If you have been reading my blog posts over the last nine months (Wow!), you have some idea about the component of the initiative that is lovingly referred to as the “Exchange.” The idea is that students will be able to take online classes across colleges in order to complete their educational goals. That effort will begin in pilot phase in January 2016.

Right now we are figuring out the details of the business processes and agreements that colleges participating in the Exchange will be using. A meeting of the eight full-launch pilot college representatives from instruction, financial aid, student services and enrollment services will take place at Foothill College at the end of April to design the way forward. This is the part of the initiative that CCC Chancellor Brice Harris has referred to as “Herculean,” but I think we may find the work both interesting and fruitful. Stay tuned!

ASCCC DE Regional Meetings

We just attended the DE Regional Meetings hosted by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC), and want to congratulate them on these wonderful summit-like meetings. I attended with Jory Hadsell and Jayme Johnson from the OEI management team, and we were really impressed and hope the ASCCC will continue to host meetings like these.

Traveling OEI Team

Our current travel schedule has increased and we will be out and about a lot in April: Association of Colleges for Tutoring and Learning Assistance (ACTLA) Conference, March 31-April 1; Campus Technology Forum for our Town Hall, April 8; ASCCC Plenary Session, April 9-11; California Association of Community College Registrars and Admissions Officers (CACCRAO), April 26-29; and more! We are also available to visit your campuses as time permits. There are about six of us who live around the state and who are willing to meet with you.

Canvas CCMS Deployment

As I write this we are finalizing details of our plans with Instructure’s Canvas system and hope to have a deployment timeline out to you in the next couple of weeks. I ask for your patience as we ramp up this part of the project. Deploying a statewide common course management system (CCMS) does take some planning and the planning takes time. We really want to get this right and not cause additional burden for colleges as they upgrade to the Canvas CCMS. We are approaching our work with Instructure as a partnership effort. With some collaboration and creativity, we may be able to build the type of learning platform that will take online learning to the next level.

In regard to the deployment, we have some items almost ready to launch, including information that we hope will help you with your decision-making at your local campuses. John Sills, at the CCC Technology Center, is almost finished with a set of online resources that will provide you with some information to share as you have conversations about moving to a new system. We will announce that here and send information to the DE Coordinators for the state when that site is available.

In the meantime, you can visit the Canvas website at for details about the CMS itself. We really look forward to bringing you all on board with Canvas through the OEI contract and will be keeping you up to date as we progress.

Student Readiness

We are working on the student readiness modules, too, and hope to make those available statewide by the end of this year. We have been piloting them and they are now going through a revision and expansion phase. This resource will be really helpful to all of our students as they consider whether online learning is right for them. The modules also address some general study skills.

Online Tutoring

The tutoring solutions are available through the Foundation for CCC and the information about that is in this edition of the TechEDge Newsletter.

Professional Development

Professional development efforts are moving right along. @ONE is leading the effort in collaboration with Michelle Pilati of our OEI management team. They are planning three Peer Online Course Reviewers’ (POCR) trainings for the next few months. While the official course reviewers for the project must be CCC online teaching faculty, these initial trainings are open to everyone in the system. We hope the information gleaned at these trainings will help the college community develop courses that are aligned to the OEI course design standards.

The first three trainings will be held March 27 at Foothill College, May 1 at Cerritos College, and May 15 at Mt. San Antonio College, and are all one-day, no-cost events. Space is limited. To sign up, please visit

Please feel free to comment here, if you have ideas or questions for us!

Have a great spring.

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