Several years ago, community colleges in California faced a crisis. Across the system, courses were either oversubscribed or unavailable.
Pressure mounted to bring in online education companies to fix the problem. Instead, the state decided to invest in its existing faculty and funded the Online Education Initiative, or OEI. Taking a collaborative approach to online education, OEI developed a statewide Course Exchange that pooled resources, addressed faculty concerns and met student needs.
The impact of OEI is far reaching. Sharing curriculum and other resources challenges the traditional divisions between institutions, across districts, and even within schools.
In implementing the course exchange, California was aware of the need for a strategic approach to critical support services. Individual institutions were encouraged to adopt a common Learning Management System to share and integrate administrative functions like registration, grading, student data, and automated enrollment reports. Student services like advising, proctoring, tutoring, and plagiarism checking. Faculty support like course design, teaching strategies and professional development programs.
Recent integrations between Student Information Systems and other critical business platforms are allowing unprecedented data sharing. Providing local institutions with information, tools and predictive analytics improve administrative decision-making and student success rates
This is the infrastructure that supports online learning.
Its benefits extend well beyond the course exchange itself. Half a million California students taking online courses at their local institutions will take advantage of these improved administrative and academic functions whether or not they’re part of OEI’s Course Exchange.
Course exchanges can have a profound effect on higher education. But the transformative effect of the new infrastructure might have an even greater impact.
This infrastructure and the benefits it enables are the “Intended Consequences” of course exchanges: fostering collaboration among faculty and administrators and allowing higher education to reach its full potential.