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2015 May 13 - 04:33 pm

COMING MAY 25: Distance Education Special Report

Calif. is Creating a Statewide Online Education Initiative

Through good times and bad, during recessions and boom times, one thing has been constant in the world of community college distance education over the past decade: enrollment in online courses continues to grow at a higher rate than overall student enrollment at colleges and universities. True, most online programs no longer are seeing the double-digit growth they experienced only five years ago, but the popularity of online learning continues to grow. In 2012, more 5 million students across the country took an online course. But here’s the thing: academic researchers consistently have found that students are significantly less likely to complete a course if they took it online than of opted for the face-to-face version of the same course. In California in 2012, for example, 60.4 percent of all students enrolled in online courses completed them with a passing grade, a figure that is a full 10 percentage points lower than in traditional courses. The reasons are many, including the fact that there is no standardized approach to teaching online classes within the California Community College System and often within the colleges themselves. But now California community colleges are in the midst of a major effort to change that. With $57 million in funding over several years, the state is creating a statewide Online Education Initiative. It’s mission is to dramatically increase the number of students who obtain associate degrees and transfer to four-year colleges. The hope is that bringing extra technology resources and centralization to California's community college system will improve student success rates online.

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