The San Diego Community College District has announced that its online class offerings have been expanded by 21% compared to the same time last year. The district has added 140 courses to the distance learning program for the fall semester which starts next week.
Roughly 20,000 of the 50,000 students at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges and the Continuing Education campus will reportedly take classes via computer, up 11% compared to last year.
As reported by KPBS, a recent survey has shown that 95% of students agreed that taking charge of their own learning was very important for their success and future career. 91% said they had a good environment in which to study for their online course.
David Wilhelm, Assistant Professor at Miramar College, has spoken of the benefits of distance learning:
"Online offerings are popular because students have the ability to access the material and advance through the course based on their schedule. And the costs are lower because there is no paper involved and you're using e-textbooks."
Daron Woods, associated student government president at San Diego City College, himself took an online history course and recommended online learning for those seeking a more flexible timetable:
"I found it very convenient. You still have deadlines and you still have to do the assignments, but you have more flexibility in building your schedule."
As reported by the Times of San Diego, online learning is growing rapidly nationwide. Community colleges are taking the lead in the Golden State with thousands of online and distance education courses on offer that attract an estimated 650,000 students annually.
The increase will also have global ramifications according to Professor Daphne Koller, co-founder of international online course provider Coursera. Koller believes that leading universities will offer fully accredited undergraduate degrees online within five years as the technology is available.
The SDCCD is working with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements to improve student access and success in online learning. The partnership is aimed at improving professional development opportunities that will keep instructors informed of the most recent trends in online teaching tools as well as of the best practices for online learners.
According to district officials, current renovations in the Sand Diego education sector are costing $1.5 billion dollars. New constructions and renovations at three colleges and Continuing Education campuses throughout the city will see a transformation in the district's education system.
The San Diego Community College District is one of 5 community college districts in San Diego County, California. With an academic staff of over 2,500 and administrative staff of over 1,300, SDCCD serves approximately 130,000 students in Southern California. It is the second-largest community college district in California and one of the largest in the United States.
The Vice Chancellor of Instruction at SDCCD summarized the growing appeal of online courses in the district:
"With so many of our students busy working or raising families, it only makes sense to provide them with a larger selection of online courses, which offer greater flexibility in their schedules."