Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.
The Online Network of Educators, or @ONE, has been a partner for professional development in the California Community Colleges system since the 1990s. Since that time, funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office has enabled @ONE to provide free and low-cost research-based professional development to tens of thousands of faculty and staff. For the past several years, @ONE has served as the professional development segment of the California Virtual Campus (CVC) and, as such, is the premier system-level resource that supports high quality, inclusive online teaching and learning.
Prior to COVID-19, colleges offered online courses to remove barriers for students who are underserved by in-person courses. In 2016-2017, 28% of unduplicated California community college students enrolled in an online course, up from 11% in 2005-2006 (CCCCO, 2017). The flexibility that online courses provide increases access for students who do not have the privilege to be on campus during traditional hours. While online courses effectively expand college access to more students, like all courses, they must be intentionally designed and taught to promote effective, equitable learning. A 2017 study showed that students who enrolled in online courses that were aligned to the CVC Online Course Design Rubric succeeded at a rate 4.9 percentage points higher than those in nonaligned courses (The RP Group, 2018).
CVC/@ONE supports the growth and development of faculty into equity-minded online educators by offering free and low-cost facilitated online courses, self-paced courses, an online teaching and course design certificate, webinars and workshops, articles, PD bundles, guides, and an online course design rubric that has been widely adopted by academic senates across the system to support quality efforts. In addition to CVC/@ONE’s free, just-in-time professional development resources, faculty and staff may register for courses offered each season to experience an effectively designed and taught online course through the lens of a learner in a community of peers, which is the most enriching professional growth experience a new online instructor can have. Upon completing a course, participants receive a digital badge that can be presented locally for verification of completion or fulfillment of Title 5 requirements. Additionally, participants have the option to earn continuing education units for an additional fee.
Each year, CVC/@ONE’s courses connect more than one thousand faculty and staff in a supportive peer-to-peer professional learning environment. Using funds for professional development or other related funds, colleges may also purchase course registration in bundles and distribute coupon codes directly to faculty and staff.
FOUR WAYS COLLEGES A RE LEVERAGING CVC/@ONE’S PD
- Meeting Local Online Teaching Preparation Requirements at Scale:
In March 2020, when courses abruptly shifted online at the start of the pandemic, distance education coordinators and support staff across the system scrambled to support an unprecedented number of faculty to fulfill local distance education training requirements. To bolster local resources, many colleges leveraged CVC/@ONE’s online courses in various ways to meet their online teaching preparation requirements:
- Cuyamaca College’s leadership required all faculty who would be teaching an online class to be certified even if they would only be teaching online during the pandemic. Cuyamaca designed a local certification course and adopted content from several @ONE courses including Introduction to Online Teaching, Introduction to Course Design, Assessment in Digital Learning, and Equity and Culturally Responsive Online Teaching. By the end of summer 2020, 240 Cuyamaca faculty were certified.
- Laney College imported the adoptable versions of CVC/@ONE’s Introduction to Teaching with Canvas and Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning courses into their Canvas instance, adapted the courses to fit their needs, and facilitated them for their own faculty to learn to teach online and meet district preparation requirements. By the end of July 2020, Laney College had over 110 faculty prepared to teach online, and to date that number has scaled to 232.
- When the COVID pandemic began, Palomar College encouraged faculty to take courses directly through @ONE to prepare for online teaching. Palomar officials purchased a bundle of course registrations in advance, allowing faculty to simply fill out a form to receive a coupon code for a course. Each month, Palomar received the bill from CVC/@ONE while faculty learned about everything from accessibility to humanizing. One year later, faculty are still using these codes regularly because they enjoy taking @ONE’s courses.
- Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement:
Colleges are integrating the full spectrum of CVC/@ONE professional development into their systemic efforts to support ongoing improvements in online teaching and learning.
- At College of the Canyons, @ONE’s professional development offerings have been essential to the instructor training and certification programs. The COC Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and online education department look to @ONE as the leaders in online teaching and learning to inform the training and support they offer. @ONE’s shared research, presentations, videos, Pocket-PD, and adoptable courses have served as the cornerstone of College of the Canyon’s faculty certification programs. These courses include a five-week online/hybrid instructor certification course, a self-paced online/hybrid instructor re-certification course, a self-paced Canvas certification course, and, most recently, an online live (synchronous with Zoom) instructor certification course. COC also includes @ONE’s offerings on their Flex calendar, which provides faculty with more options and access to a wide variety of professional development opportunities.
- CVC/@ONE’s Peer Online Course Review (POCR) training has been essential to preparing Contra Costa College’s POCR mentors to support their colleagues in aligning their courses to the CVC Course Design Rubric. Contra Costa faculty regularly participate in Creating Accessible Course Content, Introduction to Teaching with Canvas, Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning, and Equity and Culturally Responsive Online Teaching. Contra Costa’s distance education coordinator promotes faculty participation in the array of Pocket PD offered by @ONE. These PD opportunities often inspire the training workshops offered locally by Contra Costa’s instructional designers.
- Mesa College leverages @ONE resources across several of its own local offerings. Mesa’s Online Success Team uses the CVC Course Design Rubric as a framework for collecting and sharing effective practices at Mesa. The 2021 @ONE Fall into Humanized Online Teaching and 2022 Equitable Online Teaching series sessions have all been added to Mesa’s local schedule of webinars that provide Flex credit. Faculty inquiry groups at Mesa are incentivized to complete equity-infused course redesign collaboratively using the rubric and other Pocket PD from @ONE. The Mesa Learning Opportunities for Transformation provides coupon codes to faculty interested in taking @ONE facilitated courses.
- Prioritizing Anti-racist Teaching:
In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and countless other lives that have been lost to racial violence, local senates have encouraged faculty to educate themselves about race and structural racism, acknowledge biases, examine privilege, and engage in vulnerable, uncomfortable discussions (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, 2020). As such, Cosumnes River College adopted the @ONE course Equity & Culturally Responsive Online Teaching as part of the college’s Better Prepared Online Teacher program. Two of the faculty who had previously taken or facilitated the course through @ONE recruited other faculty to take the course and become local facilitators.
- Supporting Salary Advancement:
Many faculty, particularly those who are part-time, may be unaware of how or if professional development can be used to increase their salary. Sierra College, driven by a systemic effort to improve equity, helps faculty navigate this process by providing a list of pre-approved CVC/@ONE courses that can be completed to earn credit to advance on the salary scale (FERC Committee, n.d.). Since the courses are pre-approved by Sierra’s Faculty Employees Reclassification Committee, faculty do not need to pay the additional continuing education credit fee.
GUIDING THE FUTURE OF QUALITY ONLINE EDUCATION IN THE CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGES
With a commitment to professional development and institutional support, online courses are poised to continue to serve the needs of students as well as provide a reliable instructional backbone for college infrastructure through times of emergency and uncertainty. As colleges negotiate this trying and exhausting time, faculty are encouraged to recognize the impact that teaching, regardless of course modality, has on students’ academic experiences and futures. To help guide the inclusion of online instruction in campus planning efforts that support the Chancellor’s Office Vision for Success and guided pathways, CVC/ @ONE is supporting the development of a framework for quality, inclusive online course design and teaching. The framework, which is intended to augment the existing use of local POCR and the CVC Course Design Rubric, is being developed during the 2021-22 academic year in collaboration with system stakeholders from instruction, administration, and student support services. A pilot will commence in Fall 2022.
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2020). Anti-Racism Education in California Community Colleges. https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/Anti-Racism_Education_F20.pdf.
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2017). Distance Education Report. https://www.cccco.edu/-/media/CCCCO-Website/About-Us/Reports/Files/2017….
FERC Committee. (n.d.). Pre-Approved Course List & On/Off Campus Workshops. Sierra College. https://onlinenetworkofeducators.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FERC-Pr….
The RP Group. (2018, April). OEI Enrollment, Demographics, and Outcomes Summary Fall 2016 to Spring 2017. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ud2oeKV0CUI4ehdljVEObhAOtp7Y9uEW/view?….