Professors and administrators are troubled by California Online Community College

Story by Anna Karkalik

The California Online Community College has sparked concern with professors and administrators regarding future enrollment.

Initiated by Governor Jerry Brown, the online college will be an asset to those who want to further their careers.

The online college is said to not be a competitive force against community colleges because it is instead aimed towards those who are in the workforce. These are the people who have their high school diplomas and need some certificates that will help them advance or gain new job opportunities.  

“The online college is focused on providing micro-credentials, skills training to workers in the workforce who need some skills beyond  a high school diploma in order for them to keep their jobs or to be promoted into new jobs,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, and current interim CEO of the online college, said in an teleconference with student media representatives.

The online college will receive its accreditation in three years, however, until the online college receives those accreditations, the institution is not financial aid eligible. Students would have to pay out of pocket for the courses offered.

The online college has said it is working towards making the courses offered free for students, but clear details on how have not yet been offered.

Professors and administrators voiced their concerns at the faculty forum held on Monday where they discussed the online college as well as new recent legislation including AB 19, AB 705, and the funding formula.

The event was a collaborative effort by Academic Affairs, Academic Senate, the Faculty Association, and Student Support Services to review recent changes that will affect LBCC.

Vice President of Student Affairs Kathleen Scott is among those concerned about the potential impact the online college might have on online enrollment rates.

“We have 15 computer office system certificates and we really have one of the best programs in the state and that’s the first areas that they’re going for are those computer office IT certificates so it is duplicative,” said Scott.

Some faculty members present urged the rest that until the online community college is up and running, it is too early to determine if it will hurt enrollment at LBCC.

“The ones that we are more at risk of losing are those far away ones who aren’t really connected to the campus in any way and that’s not really our online students,” said LBCC data scientist Andrew Fuenmayor. “90% of our online enrollments are by students that have taken or are currently taking an in-person course, we have very few pure online students.”

Fuenmayor explains that for some students, there may be barriers that prevent the student from getting to a traditional college, but also acknowledges the challenges of an online college.

“Anyone that teaches an online section here will tell you about the challenges of working entirely virtual, so having students like ours that are hybrid and they’re taking advantage of the in-person services while working through our online course is a pretty ideal situation,” said Fuenmayor.

The courses offered on the online college are to begin during Fall 2019.