Two months ago O'Neal Spicer and I wrote an op-ed for the Community College Daily describing our observations on the California Online Education Initiative (OEI). We don't often write about clients of ours, but in this case we felt it would be useful to share our thoughts outside of the consulting context, and the OEI staff agreed.
While some argued that a parallel system of MOOCs, unbundled course and third-party operators should step-in, the state opted to re-invest in its existing faculty and infrastructure. At the heart of what became known as the Online Education Initiative (OEI) was a system for an online course exchange that could help to improve access to courses that were oversubscribed or not available at local campuses.
California was not alone in making the move toward a system where a consortium of campuses pooled resources to offer online courses for students across multiple campuses. North Carolina has done so, as has Colorado and Mississippi and several others. Part of the attraction of course exchanges comes from the acknowledgement that with online education, the campus walls do not need to be an artificial barrier.
We thought it would be useful to explore this concept of course exchanges more broadly.1 OEI is not the first course exchange - Colorado Community College System, University of North Carolina System, Mississippi Virtual Community College, Kentucky Virtual Campus, to name a few other initiatives2. What is the concept of course exchanges and what problem is being addressed? In a nutshell, you can think of this as removing the traditional boundaries of higher ed, as described in our first video.
(Video source: https://youtu.be/HBCVAau8hK8)
But collaboration, while being a noble goal, is not easy. You can't just throw courses online. While the various course exchanges have different approaches, they all have invested in a shared infrastructure to enable individual institutions to pool resources and even share students. This is the topic of the second video.
(Video source: https://youtu.be/tnEIWtEHUH0)
In our next video of this series, we'll come back to California and OEI and describe how the investment in the shared infrastructure can have an even greater impact than enabling course exchanges.
By Phil Hill
- Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. [↩]
- Disclosure: Besides OEI, Colorado Community College System and Mississippi Community College System are past clients of either MindWires or its predecessors. [↩]