Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to establish an entirely online California community college is set for a vote in a subcommittee of the state Assembly this week, but many instructors say they are wary of the idea.
The governor wants to spend $120 million now and $20 million each year thereafter for an online community college that would target people who have no post-secondary education.
But Wynd Kaufmyn, who teaches in-person and online engineering courses at the City College of San Francisco, thinks working adults who go back to school need the support of a campus community – and worries that an all-online approach would lead to more dropouts.
“I can’t think of anything more wrong-headed,” she says. “It’s duplicating efforts that are actually better placed to serve the students. I think the best way to go is to fund the programs and the wraparound services that will ensure their success at their local community colleges.”
The governor says he hopes a new online community college would fit better into students’ busy lives and entice the 2.5 million adults aged 25 to 34 in this state who have a high school diploma but nothing more. However, some educators worry that it would simply drain students from existing community college programs.
David Lau, an adjunct English instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, says he favors the hybrid of in-person and online courses that most community colleges currently offer. He adds that busy adults are more likely to succeed if they have personal contact with students and teachers.
“In face-to-face course offering, as an instructor you can often make all kinds of different attempts to intervene, offer assistance, mandate that they come to office hours, give them makeup assignments for missed work, and you’re much more likely just to see a student disappear from an online course offering,” he explains.
If the subcommittee votes the proposal down, the online college becomes a conference item between the California Senate and Assembly. If it does pass, then it goes to a separate vote of the full budget committees of both houses.
by Suzanne Potter
Public News Service – CA