Representatives of the California Community Colleges on Monday announced upgrades in their online-course system, the California Virtual Campus, that are intended to improve students’ completion rates.
The college system said the effort was designed to make it easier for students to find courses that fulfill transfer requirements and create pathways to the California State University system. Among the improvements are a design that works better on mobile phones and includes an improved search function.
The community-college system also has increased efforts to improve the quality of its online courses, to better prepare students to take such courses, and to train instructors to teach them. Those efforts fall broadly under the system’s Online Education Initiative.
According to Pat James, director of the initiative, students’ success rates in online courses are somewhat lower than in in-person courses. The initiative’s goal, she said, is in part to “close the gap,” which has been characteristic of California’s community colleges over the past few years. Of California’s 2.1 million community-college students, 650,000 were enrolled in distance courses in the 2013-14 academic year, and about 94 percent of distance-education offerings were provided via the Internet.
Improvements in the California Virtual Campus and the Online Education Initiative have been made possible by $57 million in state spending on online education in 2013.