Technology & Learning
From the Field
in the Oregon Community Colleges:
A Partnership for the 21st Century
by Ron Baker
As demands for instructional
programs and support services increase, how will the Oregon community
colleges serve expanding populations of new and continuing learners?
It is unlikely Oregon could afford to build enough buildings
to meet the projected need. Even if it were possible to build additional
facilities, how will Oregon serve the growing number of people who
are unable to attend traditionally structured on-campus courses
due to physical limitations, time constraints, or geographic barriers?
Overcoming these challenges will require greater attention to how
students learn and how education is assessed, delivered, and managed.
Many people look to distance learning as one step along that path.
All 17 Oregon community
colleges offer some form of distance learning. They are the largest
providers of distance learning in Oregon. During 1997-1998, the
Oregon community colleges collectively offered 1,169 distance learning
classes that enrolled 22,953 students and generated 1,673 FTE. These
numbers suggest that the demand for distance learning courses, programs,
and services can overwhelm an individual college's ability to respond
to the need. One potential way to surmount this problem is through
the formation of college partnerships that create an operational
framework in which colleges fulfill component roles, rather than
comprehensive roles, of a student's overall learning environment.
Such a partnership
was formed in June of 1997 when the Oregon community college presidents
and the Commissioner of the Office of Community College Services
unanimously adopted a statewide distance learning strategic plan
The strategic plan outlines a unique ”host/provider” partnership
in which colleges share responsibility for distance learning courses
and services. “Provider” colleges are responsible for the instructional
component of the student's distance learning experience. “Host”
colleges are responsible for the student services component of the
student's distance learning experience.
develop courses and offer them to “host” colleges who determine
which classes will be chosen for inclusion in the host college's
curriculum. Students enroll in these classes through the host college.
Revenues generated by student enrollments in host/provider classes
are distributed equally between the provider college and the host
The Oregon legislature
showed their support for this innovative program recently when they
unanimously voted in support of a special authorization of nearly
one million dollars to expand the distance education initiative.
“This is an unprecendented collaboration in this area,” said Representative
Lynn Snodgrass (R-Clackamas), majority leader for the Oregon House
of Representatives. “It is a very good sign for Oregon's future.”
The $950,000 just
approved will fund the development of new courses, train instructors,
and support the coordination and operation of statewide distance
learning activities. The money will also provide installation of
related resources in over 70 community college centers across the
state. These computers will be available to anyone in the community
who wishes to take a distance learning class. “This legislative
investment is a bold step that brings college courses into the home
and the workplace,” claimed Roger Bassett, Commissioner for Community
This innovative partnership
leverages individual community college distance learning experience,
expertise, and infrastructure investments to benefit students statewide.
It is one of the ways the community colleges will keep education's
“open door” open to all Oregonians.
For further information, contact:
Ron Baker, Director of Distance Education
Oregon Community Colleges
P.O. Box 14007
Salem OR 97309-7070
or browse the Distance Learning
Website at: http://www.lbcc.cc.or.us/occdec/