Community college can be an empowering, affordable, and flexible option for learners looking to further their education. Find out how eLearning platforms can equip and empower faculty, and enable students to take advantage of every opportunity that two-year colleges offer.
For many students, community college is a no-brainer. With higher acceptance rates, lower tuition costs, and unparalleled flexibility, they are frequently more accessible than their four-year counterparts, even while offering dedicated and experienced instructors, smaller class sizes, and academics to rival those of many public universities.
Community colleges face several unique challenges that their four-year counterparts do not. Budget constraints, increased enrollment, faculty populations that are primarily adjunct professors, and diverse student needs serve as perennial obstacles for community college administrators. With fluctuating student and faculty populations, community colleges are continually searching for new ways to provide personalized learning — both in the classroom and online. Emerging technology presents an unprecedented opportunity for them to do so.
Community colleges serve students of various ages, life stages, and academic backgrounds.
Not all of them enroll with the goal of eventually transferring to a four-year university, but many do. Some students attend class in-person, while others attend online. Many students may be in their late teens and early twenties, but others are much older. While some students have completed high school as their highest level of education, others may be returning to the classroom having completed any number of other degrees.
With such diverse student bodies, it’s understandably challenging for community colleges to meet the needs of every student, and ensure that students with varying levels of academic experience are equipped to succeed both in the classroom and beyond. Many students enter community college with educational backgrounds that may not have prepared them to thrive in a college classroom or complete college-level coursework. As a result, they’re often unfamiliar with the technology they’ll need to succeed in college, including tools like Microsoft Office Suite, social media platforms, and learning management systems.
Community college administrators can more easily close these skill gaps by offering eLearning resources that students can use to get up to speed. Optional eLearning coursework can help struggling students master key technical competencies and gain college specific self-management skills, including guidance on how to choose a course of study, how to succeed in an online class, how to more effectively manage time and more.
Currently, only 15 percent of community college students earn a bachelor’s degree in six years. Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, attributes this low rate to students’ tendency to get lost in the sea of options available to them. Because the number of available classes is often overwhelming and because faculty members are stretched thin, students hoping to transfer to a four-year college or university often don’t have the resources they need to do so successfully.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Thomas Bailey suggests that community colleges need to move past the “cafeteria” approach — wherein students are overwhelmed by choice — to a model that more effectively supports desired student outcomes. “The dark side of choice and flexibility is complexity, disorientation, and disconnectedness,” he argues. “A course catalogue containing hundreds of classes and dozens of program areas confronts students, who receive limited help in deciding what to study (adviser to student ratios exceed 1 to 1,000 at many colleges) and may have difficulty determining the classes they need to complete a degree or to transfer to a four-year college without losing credits.”
As an alternative, Bailey recommends that community colleges create “highly structured pathways with maps that clearly lay out the courses students need to take each term.” eLearning platforms are a crucial element in implementing such pathways. Integrate a college’s learning management system (LMS) with an online course library that serves as a one-stop-shop for students to track their progress, easily access required and supplementary coursework, and visualize a clear list of priorities as they work toward specific goals.
Whether it’s people who are living with disabilities, those who must work jobs during traditional school hours, or those caring for family member, online learning has opened the door to thousands of new community college students. Of course, offering online courses — and enhancing in-person courses with digital components — takes expertise. Instructors need guidance and support in making the monumental shift from leading face-to-face discussions and holding lectures to effectively teaching online audiences and managing in-person courses with the help of digital resources.
Much of the work in setting online students up for success rests with faculty, and it’s important for institutions that offer online courses to clearly communicate expectations. Many community colleges are already leveraging an LMS to streamline online coursework and provide a platform where students can interact with their professors and classmates. But not every instructor will have had experience using a particular LMS, and some may never have taught an online class — especially in community college environment where many faculty members work in an adjunct capacity. eLearning platforms can help community college administrators implement training programs that not only help professors gain key competencies for online teaching but allow professors to learn on their own time.
Hoonuit’s comprehensive online content library can help community colleges transform collaboration and eLearning by offering students and faculty instant access to courses, assessments, and pathways designed to tackle these common challenges. Our accessible platform integrates seamlessly with nearly every LMS, making it easy for community colleges to provide invaluable online support and resources for students at every level.
Hoonuit’s content also functions as a flexible professional development tool through which faculty can gain new digital competencies, ensure they’re complying with accessibility standards, and master the technical skills that are indispensable in a modern college environment.
Learn more about how Hoonuit’s eLearning tools can empower student and faculty on your community college campus: