Opening a New Market for Community College Courses – Campus Technology
Opening a new market for community college courses
A company focused on “working learners” has launched a new marketplace for community colleges to sell their courses online. SocialTech.ai’s Unmudl features courses from seven community colleges. These include the Lineman Pre-Apprenticeship Program from Central New Mexico Community College ($8,999), An Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles from Pima Community College ($277.75) in Arizona, and An Introduction to Java from GateWay Community College ($1,372.59), also in Arizona. Some courses are meant to be taken online while others are delivered in person.
Courses have one of three goals: to help students find jobs, earn credit, or earn higher pay by becoming industry certified.
According to a position paper recently released by Unmudl, community colleges can no longer assume their audience is regional as they face a tidal wave of competition in education. It’s time, the document asserts, for college leaders to shift from an “online” mentality to an “e-commerce mentality” nationwide, to complement the course offerings offered by MOOCs, four years and bootcamps.
“Try searching Google for individual community college course titles and see if they even show up in an online search,” the newspaper notes. “Sixty-seven percent of students would prefer an online provider that is physically close to them because they want someone to talk to, face-to-face, if they have a problem. Give them that option.”
The document also suggested that schools be prepared to accommodate not their usual 40 students per class, but 2,000. How? By increasing the number of hourly teaching assistants and aides they hire to provide “human contact”.
Why would a student choose the online community college option over the alternatives? As the document explains, community colleges can issue college credits, they can convert non-credits to credits, and they can link directly to jobs.
While some of the courses offer real-time sessions, are in-person (such as the Lineworker program, which includes an internship), or are delivered remotely (self-driving vehicles), others are available as on-demand courses (such as the introduction to Java course).
Colleges that are currently involved in the market also include Bellevue College in Washington, Continuing Education San Diego, San Juan College, and SUNY Broome.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former editor for educational publications at 1105 Media, THE Journal, Campus Technology, and Spaces4Learning.