California is creating a community college entirely online that will offer certificate and credentialing programs aimed at young people struggling to adapt to the needs of an evolving marketplace.
Gov. Jerry Brown put forth the idea and lawmakers included $100 million in the state budget this year with an additional $20 million annually, according to the proposal. The plan also has the support of California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.
According to the governor's budget summary, the online community college is aimed at the 2.5 million people in California between 25 and 34 years old that only have a high school diploma or some college education, but no degree. It seeks to "provide underserved working students with scheduling flexibility and more accessible learning options."
"This community college will create and coordinate accessible, flexible and high-quality online courses and programs. A critical part of the college's efforts will be ensuring working students have the support they need to succeed in their programs," the summary states.
The college is seeking to help the "stranded worker," or working adults who can't attend college in person. According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, these stranded workers are at risk of displacement because of advances in automation and artificial intelligence. Others may have lost jobs during the recession and have been unable to recover. The new online community college hopes to help these workers by improving their skills and teaching new ones.
The college will allow students to go at their own pace, not following the traditional academic calendar. Courses will be shorter than traditional ones and the college will use "adaptive learning and be competency-based," so students don't have to "relearn what they already know," the chancellor's office stated. The office also said it will hire faculty from within the state's education system, as well as hire additional faculty.
Although the online community college has received numerous letters of support from organizations and leaders across California, a group of independent faculty unions wrote a letter of opposition in May. They recommend rejecting the online college and allocating the proposed budget to existing community colleges.
According to the proposal, the college will offer courses in advanced manufacturing, health care, the service sector, in-home support services, child development and more. The college plans to enroll students by the end of 2019.