Community colleges launch consortium to share online courses
Hundreds of community colleges could one day share online courses after the launch of a new network called the Innovation League Online Course Sharing Consortium.
the League for Community College Innovation, a group of nonprofit members whose mission is to cultivate innovation in community colleges, today announced the launch of the new online course sharing consortium.
Course-sharing consortium will be open to League for Innovation in the Community College members join. The membership group currently has a few hundred institutional members, most of whom are based in the United States, but some of whom are also located internationally.
The Innovation League Online Course Sharing Consortium will work with a company, Acadeum, to establish online course sharing partnerships between participating institutions. The company will provide a course sharing platform as well as administrative support to the consortium.
The following community colleges are currently participating in the new League for Innovations online course sharing consortium:
- Austin Community College in Texas
- Lamar Institute of Technology in Texas
- Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania
- Tarrant County Community College in Texas
- Yavapai Community College in Arizona
“This new consortium will help community colleges better meet the needs of learners by organizing student access to courses that are not available at their home institutions,” said Cynthia Wilson, vice president of learning and responsible for the impact of the League for Innovation in the Community College, in a report. “This initiative also aims to harness the collective expertise and capacity of community colleges to improve scheduling flexibility for students looking for in-demand courses.
University and college consortia that allow institutions to share resources have been around for decades, but there are relatively few higher education consortia dedicated to online course sharing. Even fewer have been created specifically to support online course sharing for community colleges. Leaders of the League for Innovation’s Online Course Sharing Consortium believe their network is the first to facilitate online course sharing for community colleges nationwide.
By acting as an intermediary between institutions that share online courses, Acadeum can reduce many of the headaches associated with course sharing for administrators, instructors and college students, said Joshua Pierce, co-founder and CEO of the company.
The Acadeum establishes partnership agreements between participating institutions, ensures that all state rules and necessary accreditation requirements are met, and manages finances so that students can continue to pay tuition fees at their home institution, even if they are taking courses from another institution. Course sharing within the new consortium is expected to go live this fall, Pierce said.
Acadeum manages dozens of consortia made up of four-year-old institutions. But previously it only had one consortium for two-year public institutions – a network of Texas community colleges called Digitex. Digitex, also known as the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas, covers 50 community college districts in the state. Of these, 18 are currently active in online course sharing through the partnership between Acadeum and Digitex, but more may join in the future.
So far, five community colleges have signed up to participate in the Innovation League’s Online Course Sharing Consortium, including two Texas-based community colleges that are already participating in course sharing through Digitex. Four of the institutions that have signed up to participate in the new national lesson-sharing consortium will offer their existing online courses to students from other member institutions. One, the Lamar Institute of Technology in Texas, will not offer online courses, but has expressed interest in having its students take courses offered by other institutions.
The Lamar Institute of Technology has joined the consortium to provide additional courses for students to respond to pathway initiatives and address human capital issues, an Acadeum spokesperson said in an email. The institution told Acadeum that it has particular difficulties finding enough qualified math teachers and that it later hopes to offer online technology courses through the consortium.
Establishing course-sharing partnerships between community colleges, especially when they are located in different states with their own regulations and requirements as well as different tuition fees, is more complex than establishing partnerships between institutions. four-year-old, Pierce said. Community colleges often have a great deal of autonomy and there are several offices responsible for student billing and other administrative functions, he said.
The success of Digitex’s partnership with Acadeum has been essential in convincing members of the League for Innovation in the Community College with the idea that online course sharing could work between their member institutions, said Rufus Glasper, President and Chief of the leadership of the League for Innovation in. Community College.
“Acadeum came to us and believed this model was replicable and scalable – they wanted to try to market it nationally,” Glasper said.
Community colleges have had a very difficult year in 2020 and are still trying to figure out how to encourage many students who have dropped out or delayed their schooling to return, Glasper said. Completion of college education is a central goal of the consortium, he said.
“Twenty-twenty are referred to as the ‘lost generation’ of community college students,” Glasper said. “It may take us five years or more to get back on track.”
By offering courses from other SU institutions, students can access educational opportunities that might not be available at their home institution, Glasper said. They can also have increased flexibility.
From a college perspective, online course sharing allows institutions to use their resources much more efficiently, Pierce said. It can also provide support if an instructor suddenly becomes ill or if an institution is having difficulty recruiting qualified people.
“The timing for this consortium is excellent,” said Glasper. “This is an opportunity for us to see what impact the sharing of courses could have in terms of enrollment and to offer the flexibility that colleges would like to have.