PRESS RELEASE: California Community Colleges overhauls nation’s largest virtual catalog of online courses (06/06/15)

posted Oct 9, 2015, 10:32 AM by Rebecca Miller


Contact: Paige Marlatt Dorr

June 8, 2015

California Community Colleges overhauls nation’s largest virtual catalog of online courses, marks progress on system-wide improvement to distance education

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Chancellor Brice W. Harris today announced that the California Community Colleges has upgraded its web-based catalog of online college courses, California Virtual Campus, to make it easier for students to find transferable courses, marking a major milestone in the system’s bid to improve student access and completion rates through enhanced distance education services.

Thanks to the upgrade, classes required to earn an associate degree under a streamlined guaranteed transfer program with California State University known as Associate Degree for Transfer, will be prioritized on the website’s course search results page.

“The exciting upgrades we’ve made to the catalog will allow students to clearly and quickly see what classes fulfill transfer program requirements and serve to improve pathways to CSU, a significant step in our drive to foster student success through improved online education,” Harris said.

The California Virtual Campus provides information on more than 2,500 courses that satisfy Associate Degree for Transfer requirements and 1,400 other academic degree programs offered entirely online to students. In total, the catalog offers information on more than 19,000 online courses in California offered by the community colleges, CSU, UC and private colleges, and is available to students at all of these institutions.

The upgrade makes it easier for students to use the tool on their phones and provides online support if they have questions about navigating the college system. It also allows students to search courses by geographic location and narrow course search results by subject or college. The website can be found at

“This improved virtual catalog is part of a broader offering of services developed as part of the Online Education Initiative,” Harris continued. “The investment made by the governor and Legislature in this initiative places a heavy emphasis on support services tailored to the diverse needs of our 2.1 million students.”

Other online education improvements being developed by the initiative to increase student success and retention rates include:

  • Increasing online course quality through instructional design support and professional development resources for faculty;

  • Providing online tutoring and other student support services, including assessments to determine student readiness for online courses;

  • Providing tutorials to assist students in becoming successful online learners; and

  • Offering online course management systems for free or at low cost to the individual community college campuses

The improvements are possible through a five-year, $57 million investment in California community college online education made by the governor and Legislature in 2013. The initiative is a partnership between Foothill-De Anza Community College District and Butte-Glenn Community College District.

Salary Surfer Shows Power Of CCC Degrees (06/20/13)

posted Oct 9, 2015, 10:11 AM by Rebecca Miller

Written by Paige Marlatt Dorr

June 20, 2013   

A new online tool released by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office allows students and the public to view aggregated median earnings of those who complete a certificate or degree in a specific community college discipline and then enter the workforce.

Salary Surfer, which can be viewed at, displays median annual incomes for those who complete 179 of the most widely enrolled program areas and do not transfer to a four-year institution. The data show the median earnings for community college graduates two years prior to earning the award, then two years and five years after earning either a certificate or degree.

An analysis of the data contained on Salary Surfer shows that students who complete an associate degree more than double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce.

“This groundbreaking tool validates that California community colleges produce a tremendous return on investment for our state,” said Brice W. Harris, chancellor of the California Community Colleges during a news conference at Grossmont College in El Cajon. “While future earnings should not be the sole determiner in choosing an educational program, students and the public deserve to know what monetary return they can expect from their investment. Salary Surfer provides that, and California becomes one of the few states in the nation to offer these results publicly.”

Nearly 45 percent of students who graduated with an associate degree and did not transfer earned more than $54,000 annually five years after getting their degree. For comparison purposes, that is the median wage of someone with a bachelor’s degree living in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Salary Surfer also provides information on which of the system’s 112 colleges offer programs in a specific discipline.

Wage information comes from an agreement between the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the California Employment Development Department. For privacy purposes all results are aggregated across campuses statewide and over five years. Additionally, all wages displayed have been indexed to current year dollar figures.

Not all graduates earning wages will be found in Salary Surfer. Excluded are individuals who were employed by the federal government, those who are self-employed or employed out of state.

California Community Colleges Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development Van Ton-Quinlivan said the data once again shows that earning a certificate or degree translates to real value in the labor market.

“There are some powerful numbers to be gleaned from this site,” Ton-Quinlivan said. “For instance, someone with a certificate as a diagnostic medical sonographer can hope to attain a median income of $85,319 five years after graduation and we have multiple campuses throughout the state offering that certificate program. Our community colleges train 80 percent of the state’s law enforcement personnel, firefighters and emergency medical technicians and police academy certificate holders are earning a median annual wage of $70,520 after five years in the field. ”

With the release of Salary Surfer and the earlier release of the online data tool called the Student Success Scorecard, which measures student outcomes at all 112 colleges, the California Community Colleges becomes the most transparent and accountable system of public higher education in the nation.

CCC Professor Earns International OER Award (06/20/13)

posted Oct 9, 2015, 10:09 AM by Rebecca Miller

Written by Paige Marlatt Dorr   

June 20, 2013

De Anza College mathematics professor Dr. Barbara Illowsky has received the 2013 OpenCourseWare Consortium’s Educator ACE Award for her work in creating an open statistics textbook that is in use by more than 20 colleges in North America and for working to expand open educational resources throughout the world.

Illowsky accepted her award recently at the consortium’s annual global conference in Indonesia. “I am most proud that this award is an acknowledgment and acceptance of the role that community college faculty have in educating students in North America,” said Illowsky, who also works for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Academic Affairs division overseeing the California Basic Skills Initiative. “My colleague, Susan Dean, and I wrote the textbook, Collaborative Statistics, back in the mid-1990s and converted it as an open education resource in 2007 to help community college students afford it so they could still go to school. Since then, students at De Anza College alone have saved more than $1 million.”

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions and organizations advancing open educational resources. Connexions, which hosts “Collaborative Statistics,” is a place to share and view educational material in small modules that can be organized as courses, books or reports. “Collaborative Statistics” is believed to be the most widely used open textbook in the world.

While OpenCourseWare and Connexion modules do not provide a degree, credit, or certification, or access to instructors, the materials are made available under open licenses for use and adaptation by educators and learners around the world. They differ from Massive Open Online Courses, Illowsky said, in that OpenCourseWare is accessed under Creative Commons licenses meaning they are free to use and reuse as the educator or student see fit as long as attribution is given to the authors.

“I’ve been told that the information in the book has been adapted by professors as far away as Qatar, in the Middle East. That’s exciting,” Illowsky said.

Illowsky has been an advocate of using technology to increase access to education for many years. She is a tenured professor of mathematics and former department chair at De Anza College, where she has taught since 1989. She is the past president of the California Mathematics Council Community Colleges where she has pushed for improving math instruction through the use of online and interactive curriculum.

Also earning an Education ACE award was Professor Chikaung Pai. Pai led National Chiao Tung University to launch a successful OpenCourseWare site. She is now the director of Open Education Office in National Chiao Tung University and the Chief Secretary of Taiwan OpenCourseWare Consortium.

“The work of these two recipients exemplifies the many amazing contributions by individuals across the open education community,” said OpenCourseWare Consortium Executive Director Mary Lou Forward. ”We are pleased to recognize the outstanding efforts these individuals have made to expand educational opportunity worldwide.”

California Community Colleges Online Initiative (01/28/13)

posted Oct 9, 2015, 10:07 AM by Rebecca Miller

Written by Paige Marlatt Dorr

January 28, 2013

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris today praised Gov. Jerry Brown for including in his proposed 2013-14 budget additional funding for community colleges and for his leadership of an initiative to help more students achieve their academic and career goals through improved online education.

“Governor Brown’s leadership in passing Proposition 30 means California community colleges can begin to make room for some of the hundreds of thousands of students who have been shut out of our system due to recent funding cuts,” Harris said. “This budget represents a good start toward financial recovery for our system. The governor and voters deserve credit for beginning this overdue reinvestment.”

The governor’s budget would provide $197 million more to the college system in 2013-14 and directs the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to determine the best way to allocate the money to districts. The funding increase would allow colleges statewide to add back thousands of classes to serve some of the nearly 500,000 students turned away over the past four years during the state’s financial crisis and at the same time continue the system’s work to improve student success.

The additional funds, as well as $179 million to make good on funding commitments that were deferred during the recession, will leave colleges with less debt and better positioned to meet the needs of an economy that increasingly is demanding college-educated workers.

Harris said that the California community college system has already laid the groundwork for the governor’s desire to improve online education. Twenty-seven percent of community college students take at least one course online each year, nearly 17 percent of all courses offered are through distance education, and almost half of all classes currently offered involve some online components.

The California Community College Online Initiative would improve students’ access to courses and increase rates of transfer and degree attainment in the following ways:

  • Creation of a centralized “virtual campus” that brings together several existing distance education services into a single hosting system with a 24/7 support center for students. Leveraging the purchasing power of the 112-college system would save money and help students find and take the courses they need through a common online course management portal.

  • Expanded options for students to obtain college credit by exam. Working with the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, the Chancellor’s Office will create challenge exams for core courses for Associate Degree for Transfer majors as well as remedial courses. Students would have the option of acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to pass these exams through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) and credits awarded would be transportable to the California State University and the University of California.

The governor’s budget proposal also recognizes the significant role California’s community colleges play in workforce development, with significantly expanded resources for clean energy job training. The proposal also calls for shifting additional apprenticeship responsibilities to community colleges and shifting adult education responsibilities performed by K-12 to the community colleges. Over decades, uneven approaches to adult education have developed, with K-12 educating some students and community colleges educating others. Recent funding cuts have limited access to these classes, which help adults become economically self-sufficient.

“We view this budget proposal as a vote of confidence in our ability to provide workforce training and basic skills instruction to adult learners, and we look forward to conversations on ways to better serve these populations,” Harris said.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation. It is composed of 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.4 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training, basic skills courses in English and math, and prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.


Two New Bills Will Save CCC Time And Money (10/17/11)

posted Oct 9, 2015, 10:06 AM by Rebecca Miller

Written by Paige Marlatt Dorr

October 17, 2011

Two bills recently signed into law in California—AB 743 "Common Assessment" and AB 1056 "eTranscript California"—are expected to result in significant savings of time and money for more than 2.6 million students in the California Community Colleges system.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott recently thanked Governor Jerry Brown for signing two bills designed to simplify the educational process for students and create more efficient placement testing within the 112-community college system. The new legislation will save colleges money and time as more efficient services are used.

“These two pieces of legislation go a long way in saving colleges’ time and money and allowing us to efficiently and seamlessly serve our students,” Scott said. “The centralized assessment system and the new eTranscript infrastructure will help our 2.6 million students achieve their educational goals faster by eliminating redundant practices and using technology to allow our students to access their records online and to share the information quickly with other institutions.”

AB 743: California Community Colleges common assessment system.

Signed on Oct. 8, Assembly Bill 743, authored by Marty Block (D-San Diego), requires the Chancellor’s Office to establish uniform assessment tests for English, math, and English as a second language (ESL). The common assessment tools will be made available to all 112 campuses to use in determining whether individual students should enroll in college-level courses or if they should first take basic skills classes. The use of the common tests will allow students to take their results with them if they enroll at multiple campuses or want to transfer to a different community college.

Chancellor Scott noted that dozens of different standardized assessment tests are currently being used throughout the California community college system to place students into courses. Many campuses only recognize the test they use and require students who take placement exams at a different community college to be reassessed. This creates an additional hurdle for prospective students and results in costly and duplicative testing by campuses.

Assessment is a critical tool for students, many of whom begin higher education underprepared for college-level work. Taking an assessment prior to placement in a course is a critical step towards increasing student success. Colleges that use the new common assessment exams will realize a significant cost savings because the system will purchase the tests in volume and offer them to campuses at little or no cost. This will allow more students to be assessed while the colleges realize cost-savings that they can keep locally and reinvest in other priority programs.

Assembly Bill 743 also allows for the creation of an online pre-test application that students can use to prepare to take the assessments. This will help students to improve their placement scores by allowing them to brush-up on skills they may have forgotten and as a result, enroll in the appropriate classes—thus helping them to succeed faster in degree or certificate completion and/or in transferring to a four-year university.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office received a one-time allocation of $500,000 from the California Assembly for the common assessment project. This funding, in addition to grant money from the Hewlett and Gates Foundations, will combine to provide $850,000 in necessary start-up costs for the systemwide initiative. The bill was supported by multiple community college campuses and districts, the Community College League of California, and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. It will take effect in January 2012.

AB 1056: California Community Colleges eTranscript California

Assembly Bill 1056, authored by Paul Fong (D-Mountain View), requires community colleges to convert from a paper-based transcript process to an electronic system called "etranscripts" that is highly efficient and student-friendly. The conversion to an electronic system will save the colleges $4 to $10 per transcript through reduced paper consumption, fewer staff hours, and decreased postage costs. It will also shorten the transmittal time from approximately three weeks to 24 hours when transcripts need to be sent from one campus to another. Many community colleges are already using this system or an alternate etranscript service. The newly signed legislation will make the practice universal.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office received a one-time allocation of $500,000 from the state Assembly to help fund the cost of converting from the paper to an electronic transcript system. This funding is estimated to cover the initial conversion costs as specified in the bill. Maintenance expenses will be addressed through savings generated by the use of a more efficient, electronic system.

Assembly Bill 1056 is an important first step for creating even greater efficiencies in the future. By investing in this statewide technology, California is building the crucial infrastructure to support future automated projects such as degree audits, around the clock counseling, and the ability to quickly send student transcripts to institutions out of the state.

The California Community Colleges system is the largest system of higher education in the nation. It comprises 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.6 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training, basic skills courses in English and math, and prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.   

UPDATE: CCC Technology Leadership Award (05/20/11)

posted Oct 9, 2015, 10:04 AM by Rebecca Miller

Written by Paige Marlatt Dorr

May 20, 2011

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott announced that Jim Dolgonas, chief executive officer of the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), has been given the 2010 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Excellence in Technology Leadership Award.

The award was presented to Dolgonas May 10 at the California Community Colleges Board of Governors meeting in Sacramento.

“Jim Dolgonas helped streamline a statewide communications network for our system that saved us tens of millions of dollars. The board and I are pleased to honor Jim’s important commitment to higher education with this award,” said Chancellor Scott. “At a time when resources are increasingly scarce, a partnership with an organization like CENIC is extremely valuable to help save the state money, while providing a quality service for our students, staff and faculty. Over the past decade, our district offices, campuses and off-site centers have greatly benefitted from increased Internet access and network efficiency. And, efficiency equals savings.”

CENIC is a nonprofit fiber communications and internet provider collaboratively created and now operated by the state’s K-12, California Community Colleges, California State University and University of California education segments. Also in the network are Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California. The network provides standardized Internet connectivity for all 112 community college campuses along with the other state education segments.

When CENIC was first developed in 1997 as an association for research and education, the California Community Colleges was not part of the initiative. Dolgonas became CENIC’s CEO in 2002. He knew that the community college Internet needs could easily fit under CENIC and provide a much lower operating cost with expanded access to all 112 campuses. The process of integrating the California Community Colleges into CENIC required an extensive lobbying effort by Dolgonas of existing charter members. Through his efforts, he was able to convince the charter members to allow the system to join CENIC in 2002.

The California Community Colleges has been a full charter member since then, with an equivalent number of voting board of director seats (three) as the other members.

About the award: Since 2000, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Technology Award program has honored individual leaders that have identified and solved significant problems with ingenuity and resourcefulness. The Chancellor’s Office acknowledges individuals within or external to the California Community Colleges who have made significant contributions to the system.

Excellence in Technology Leadership Award recipients are nominated and selected by members of the California Community Colleges Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Committee. Leadership Awards are selected on the basis of effective educational technology leadership at the institution, district, region or system level.

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