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Career Education

CA Community Colleges Awarded $27.5 Million for Online CTE

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California's community college system has issued 70 grants totaling $27.5 million to help its colleges develop and strengthen career education programs that can be taken online. Awards — some of which were as high as $500,000 — came through "Improving Online CTE Pathways," a grant program developed by the new California Virtual Campus Online Education Initiative. One-time funding for the program, $35 million in all, came via the 2018-2019 state budget.

"These grants will help improve the online education ecosystem in the California community colleges," said Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, in a statement. He added that the "holistic approach" would also help to strengthen traditional college offerings and get the state's new online college off on the right footing.

That new college, named Calbright, is expected to serve low-wage working adults who can quickly gain short-term credentials. However, the online effort isn't dependent on that school alone. Almost every community college in the state is participating in the push for online course offerings.

Among the grants issued were these:

  • "CTE Goes Online," a program proposed by Bakersfield College that utilizes several innovations already in use at the college, including open educational resources and the Pathways Program Mapper, an online program that helps students develop their educational plan by allowing them to visualize the courses they'll need each semester to reach their goals;
  • "Online Certificates in High-Demand, High-Wage Fields" at Diablo Valley College; recently the school launched an online certificate in digital marketing, to address an employer-identified market shortage in the region; and
  • "Project HOPE" (Having Online Positive Experiences) at Los Angeles Valley College, which will target the quality of online instruction, emphasize career readiness for students and address gaps in success and retention.

According to the Chancellor's Office, the grants are aimed at helping the community colleges develop online programs that either lead to short-term, industry-valued credentials or enable a student in a career pathway developed by Calbright to continue the education at a traditional community college.

The state estimated that a third of students in the system now take at least one class online.

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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