Valley’s Academic Senate furthers online class enrollment by joining the California Virtual Campus Online Education Initiative exchange.
By Natalie Metcalf, Staff Writer
Valley College’s Academic Senate moved to join the California Virtual Campus Consortium, passing with 19 votes and five abstains. The establishment offers virtual classes for students in the California Community College district.
Initiated by Academic Senate President Chauncey Maddren, the motion had been discussed twice in previous senate meetings, failing to advance both times. The California Virtual Campus Online Education Initiative Consortium was launched in October 2015, and aims to address online achievement gaps. It also works to increase student access to online classes by providing students with more classes to fulfill degree requirements. The virtual campus facilitates the listing of course offerings from all nine campuses, with Valley being the final school in the district to join. During the meeting, there were conflicting ideas about Valley officially joining.
“This is a done deal. I don’t know why we’re even having this conversation yet again,” said senate member and Valley sociology professor Darby Southgate. “While I really want to be supportive, I often feel like we’re being told to vote on something that’s already been voted on outside of our purview.”
With late start classes beginning on April 11, Valley courses will be the first to appear on the CVC website.
“I’m imagining putting the classes in a market is also going to affect student enrollment,” said Southgate.
Valley is the only college in the district not officially enrolled in the CVC-OEI Consortium. Maddren argued that joining the consortium would increase enrollment, completion of credits and professional development opportunities for faculty. English professor and Senator Holly Batty expressed her thoughts on the motion.
“I don’t know to what extent it would increase enrollment or have any effect on enrollment whatsoever,” said Batty. “But I think the main advantage is really the professional development support that comes with being a part of the consortium.”
Enrollment is down roughly 20 percent with Valley’s spring 2022 headcount at 13,228 students. According to President Barry Gribbons, in order for Valley to avoid potential staff downsizing, the college would need to recruit around 17,000 students. If Valley is unable to increase enrollment, the school may have to reduce staff.
According to the former Executive Director of the CVC-OEI Jory Hadsell, students were interviewed using the exchange to collect qualitative data. He also explained that students are using CVC out of necessity.
Increasing matriculation was another topic discussed before voting for the motion. Maddren pointed out student completion will increase more so than enrollment. The consortium conducted an RP Group – an independent nonprofit that works for the California Community College district – study of pilot colleges a few years ago and discovered colleges engaged in CVC-OEI increased student completion by 3.5 percent.
Pierce College’s student completion increased by 40 percent after joining the exchange.
“We’re holding back the other colleges by not joining,” said Maddren. “Students shopping for a course can go to the CVC and look for these courses. If we are in the consortium, then those classes get pushed up to the top.”