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New Marketplace Opens for Community College Courses


A company with a focus on "working learners" has launched a new marketplace for community colleges to sell their courses online. Unmudl from features courses from seven community colleges. Those include lineworker pre-apprenticeship program from Central New Mexico Community College ($8,999), an introduction to autonomous vehicles from Pima Community College ($277.75) in Arizona and introduction to Java from GateWay Community College ($1,372.59), also in Arizona. Some classes are intended to be taken online while others are delivered in-person.

The courses follow one of three goals: to help students get a job, get credit or get higher pay by becoming industry-certified.

According to a position paper recently published by Unmudl, community colleges can no longer assume their audience is regional, as they face a tidal wave of education competition. It's time, the paper asserted, for college leaders to shift from an "online" mentality to an "ecommerce mentality" on a national basis, to complete with course offerings made available through MOOCs, four-year institutions and bootcamps.

"Try Googling an individual community college's course titles and see if they even come up in an online search," the paper noted. "Sixty-seven percent of students would prefer an online provider physically close to them, because they want the fallback of someone to talk to, face-to-face, in case something goes wrong. Give them that option."

The paper also suggested that schools be prepared to accommodate not their usual 40 students per class but 2,000. How? By expanding the number of hourly teaching assistants and adjuncts they hire to provide "human contact."

Why would a student choose the community college online option over alternatives? As the paper explained, community colleges can issue college credits, they can convert non-credits to credit and they can make direct connections to jobs.

While some of the courses provide real-time sessions, are in-person (such as the lineworker program, which includes an internship) or are delivered remotely (autonomous vehicles), others are available as on-demand classes (like the intro to Java course).

The colleges that are involved in the marketplace right now also include Bellevue College in Washington, San Diego Continuing Education, San Juan College and SUNY Broome.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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