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Insights

Re-Thinking how California Community Colleges help build the Workforce

March 22, 2018
Sagence Opinion Corner

Recently, the California Community College system started an initiative to create a new online college focused on offering competency based education for certificates that meet working adult's needs and dreams.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley is chancellor for the California Community Colleges. He recently sat down with NPR to discuss his "brainchild". The reason for the interview? Chancellor Oakley recognizes the same challenge that we do. The same challenge that our current partners are working to solve with our services and technology, to offer new competency based learning programs to non traditional students seeking new and better jobs and careers.

The workforce is changing dramatically, and there's a widespread recognition that new skills — and new ways of teaching adults those skills — are needed and needed fast. In California, the state's 114 community colleges are facing the challenge of offering the credentials, classes and training that will help workers choose a career or adapt to a new one. The system right now can't serve all of these workers. But there's a new idea that could come to the rescue: Create a new, online community college for people in the workforce who've been shut out of higher education.

Governor Brown is a huge proponent of this idea and has proposed $100 million in startup funding for a new online college focused on the delivery of competency based education certificates and degrees. Why does the Chancellor feel they need a new institution to do this, to better serve Californians who want to grow and thrive?

These are individuals who cannot drop everything they're doing or come to our colleges and spend two to three years getting a degree or credential. They need short-term job skills in order to survive.... These short-term credentials would take advantage of a worker's prior learning, folks who've been in the workforce for a long time and have lots of experience. We would give them a short burst of job skills that employers would honor. This is not something that our community colleges currently focus on.

We agree this is a key need, we have partners around the U.S. focused on it. They are building competency based programs, self paced learning opportunities (self-paced but fully supported by faculty and staff), re-imagined work-force certificates, and new types of short courses specifically designed for jobs and careers. Why is this needed beyond the traditional way that Online Education is currently offered? 

...in this online model, an individual would be able to enroll and begin classes anytime of the month rather than waiting for the traditional academic semester to begin.....

Can we take advantage of existing resources? The Chancellor believes we can. Our partners already do; through the use of Sagence Learning technology that was built for the task, and the Sagence Learning demonstrated expertise behind the technology

Thousands of faculty are already doing content development and working with employers to define the skills necessary which would be part of the curriculum.

Chancellor Oakley is describing Competency Based Education. This is what we do at Sagence Learning. The Chancellor also addressed both financial aid issues and the interviewer's more "basic concern that online instruction does not work for everyone."

These are critical challenges that must be addressed. You can do this faster with solutions already created to help you answer these precise questions. We created a technology platform, used and tested for over three years that responds to all these concerns. 

•  We provide our partners the tools needed to meet financial aid requirements. 

•  More importantly, we provide our partners with the tools, process, and data required to expertly support ALL their students with  continual and real time support and help.

• And we help our partners manage this total student support. 

This is not easy to do in a model where you offer total flexibility and the most personalized education to every student.

The time is now for all colleges to be this bold. Chancellor Oakey concludes,

This proposal is something new, so there's a level of fear and trepidation.. But consider the fear of working adults who can't easily access our traditional system. Isn't it incumbent upon us to take on a little risk on their behalf?

Recently, the California Community College system started an initiative to create a new online college focused on offering competency based education for certificates that meet working adult's needs and dreams.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley is chancellor for the California Community Colleges. He recently sat down with NPR to discuss his "brainchild". The reason for the interview? Chancellor Oakley recognizes the same challenge that we do. The same challenge that our current partners are working to solve with our services and technology, to offer new competency based learning programs to non traditional students seeking new and better jobs and careers.

The workforce is changing dramatically, and there's a widespread recognition that new skills — and new ways of teaching adults those skills — are needed and needed fast. In California, the state's 114 community colleges are facing the challenge of offering the credentials, classes and training that will help workers choose a career or adapt to a new one. The system right now can't serve all of these workers. But there's a new idea that could come to the rescue: Create a new, online community college for people in the workforce who've been shut out of higher education.

Governor Brown is a huge proponent of this idea and has proposed $100 million in startup funding for a new online college focused on the delivery of competency based education certificates and degrees. Why does the Chancellor feel they need a new institution to do this, to better serve Californians who want to grow and thrive?

These are individuals who cannot drop everything they're doing or come to our colleges and spend two to three years getting a degree or credential. They need short-term job skills in order to survive.... These short-term credentials would take advantage of a worker's prior learning, folks who've been in the workforce for a long time and have lots of experience. We would give them a short burst of job skills that employers would honor. This is not something that our community colleges currently focus on.

We agree this is a key need, we have partners around the U.S. focused on it. They are building competency based programs, self paced learning opportunities (self-paced but fully supported by faculty and staff), re-imagined work-force certificates, and new types of short courses specifically designed for jobs and careers. Why is this needed beyond the traditional way that Online Education is currently offered? 

...in this online model, an individual would be able to enroll and begin classes anytime of the month rather than waiting for the traditional academic semester to begin.....

Can we take advantage of existing resources? The Chancellor believes we can. Our partners already do; through the use of Sagence Learning technology that was built for the task, and the Sagence Learning demonstrated expertise behind the technology

Thousands of faculty are already doing content development and working with employers to define the skills necessary which would be part of the curriculum.

Chancellor Oakley is describing Competency Based Education. This is what we do at Sagence Learning. The Chancellor also addressed both financial aid issues and the interviewer's more "basic concern that online instruction does not work for everyone."

These are critical challenges that must be addressed. You can do this faster with solutions already created to help you answer these precise questions. We created a technology platform, used and tested for over three years that responds to all these concerns. 

•  We provide our partners the tools needed to meet financial aid requirements. 

•  More importantly, we provide our partners with the tools, process, and data required to expertly support ALL their students with  continual and real time support and help.

• And we help our partners manage this total student support. 

This is not easy to do in a model where you offer total flexibility and the most personalized education to every student.

The time is now for all colleges to be this bold. Chancellor Oakey concludes,

This proposal is something new, so there's a level of fear and trepidation.. But consider the fear of working adults who can't easily access our traditional system. Isn't it incumbent upon us to take on a little risk on their behalf?

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Resources

CBE Network.org

A National Consortium for Designing, Developing and Scaling New Models for Student Learning

CBE Info.org

Discover the impact of Competency-Based Education on higher learning and how to implement CBE programs at your institution

HLC Commission.org

Common Framework for Defining and Approving Competency-Based Education Programs

US Dept of Education.gov

Competency Based Learning or Personalized Learning; Transitioning away from seat time.

Case Study

Evaluating Empire's First Competency-Based Learning Pilot

SUNY Empire State College piloted their first CBL courses. These findings and recommendations are based on the experiences of Empire State’s coach, faculty, technical staff, and student participants.

Read more

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