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* SCC looks at online education with virtual college blueprint could

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A significant step has been taken toward addressing the vision for Shoreline Community College set forth this past August by President Lee Lambert.

 

The 64-page “Blueprint for a Virtual College: Report to the President’s Senior Executive Team” was presented Wednesday, March 9, 2011 to that executive team by the co-chairs of the group that developed the report, Ann Garnsey-Harter, director of eLearning, and Stuart Trippel, acting director of financial services.

 

According to the report, the college should take an “approach that will build upon the College’s existing strengths: offering high quality online instruction at an affordable price. … Using this incremental approach, the immediate recommended goal is to improve existing online instructional offerings and to package them comprehensively, and – equally if not more importantly – to address internal process barriers in the area of student services.”

 

Should the President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET) choose to move forward, the report says the next step would be to appoint an implementation team that would sort and work through the many potential action steps outlined in the report. “We think an implementation team should be formed by the end of the month to continue the energy that came from this process,” Garnsey-Harter said.

 

In their presentation, Garnsey-Harter and Trippel acknowledged that the report is not truly a blueprint, but more a recommendation of direction with some identified first steps. However, Trippel reinforced the recommendation and those steps.

 

“This is possible, not just some dream,” Trippel said. “Not easy, but possible. There is nothing the other institutions mentioned in the report have that we don’t have on this campus in terms of talent.”

 

Vice President for Student Success Tonya Drake noted that many of the report’s recommendations for student services are items that are also on her priority list. Indeed, while aimed at online learning, the report says is many of the student services-related recommendations would also benefit students who come to campus.

 

“This is one of the most important strategic documents I’ve seen since my arrival,” said Daryl Campbell, Vice President for Administrative Services. “This is a very important document for this college.”

 

The virtual college idea was launched by President Lambert in August, 2010, at a brown-bag lunch to discuss the vision for the college as it deals with continued state funding reductions.

 

At the lunch, Lambert said part of that vision is to embrace the available technology to continue to provide the quality education that is Shoreline’s reputation.

 

“Technology can provide the platform to build a college within a college,” Lambert said in August, comparing the idea to a store that has a physical location to serve some customers, but also an online, or virtual, store to serve many more. “What if we had a virtual store?”

 

While Shoreline already has a successful eLearning program, ranking in the top 10 of online education providers in the state, Lambert said the college can grow in that area. That day, Lambert set a goal of doubling enrollment to 20,000 students by 2020. Recently, Lambert said that while he believes that number is attainable, his intent was to set a broad goal of bringing high quality education to more people.

 

“We could get there, maybe even more, but that’s not the point,” Lambert said this week. “Movement toward the goal is the important thing.”

 

Lambert said he’s pleased with blueprint report.

 

“This isn’t about going all online and abandoning face-to-face instruction. We do both now and we’ll continue to do both, along with hybrid classes,” Lambert said. “The blueprint outlines an incremental and scalable way to move forward in a growing area of higher education.

 

“I want to thank the Virtual College Leadership Team and all of those who participated in the work groups. Now, I look forward to working with the Senior Executive Team on next steps.”

SCC/Jim Hills

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