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The California Virtual Campus

 by Scott James

We have all heard that some piece of technology or teaching methodology will change education as we know it. Well this time I think it’s legitimate; the California Virtual Campus may change education as we know it.
Recently, Governor Jerry Brown set aside 16.9 million dollars for the creation of a state-wide virtual community college campus. This campus is called The California Virtual Campus or CVC.  The grant funds were awarded to De Anza College and Butte College, who have already begun to bring this concept into fruition. The CVC will be offering 100% online classes and are targeting their first courses to begin this fall.
So, how does it work? Well, students taking CVC classes will be given credit for the class they have completed as if that class was completed at their home institution. You can imagine that there are many challenges with this model. Below I’ll attempt to highlight some of the challenges and solutions that have been proposed so far.
The classes will be delivered 100% online, so there will not be a hybrid option. Student services such as tutoring and exam proctoring will be offered and paid for through the grant funds. Some services, such as DSP&S, must continue to be offered by a student’s home institution. Eventually, the project will select a Learning Management System (LMS), so that all CVC courses will have the same LMS. Until then, each teaching institution must use their home LMS.
All California Community Colleges are eligible to teach through the CVC. And, when they do so, the institution offering a class trough the CVC will be awarded all of the apportionment for the course. However, to teach through the CVC, one must be a certified online instructor and use the iNACOL online course quality standards. Online teaching certification can be earned in a variety of ways. The CVC will recommend the @One online certificate program, but they will accept online instructor certificates that have been awarded by any community college. Fortunately, Santiago Canyon College has recently developed an online instructor certificate program that will be offered to our faculty for free. Please contact our Distance Education Coordinator (Scott James) for details.
Once a course has been offered through the CVC, the teaching institution will set the rules and prerequisites for the course based on their campuses' normal policies and procedures. The curriculum and other course planning will follow the teaching institution's normal practice. The teaching institution will, however, accept the students home institutions placement exams and prerequisites in determining eligibility for the class.
The CVC will begin this fall by offering 25 core Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) classes. Offering these types of courses will help to ensure that the courses fill quickly and that articulation between colleges will be easier.
Since the CVC is in the planning stages, we don’t have all of the answers. Certainly, residency requirements, articulation processes, and many more questions will need to be discussed and answered in the coming months. But, the CVC is removing several barriers that students experience when attending a Community College, and that is encouraging. They are removing location and time restraints; they will be giving students choice when a home institution's classes are full; and they may be giving the community college system a little bit of competitive energy. I know you probably have a thousand questions and I do too. The CVC is exciting and maybe a little uncomfortable. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have. We have the opportunity to help shape the CVC through several channels and I want your thoughts, questions, and opinions to be part of the process.