June 8, 2015

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California Community Colleges overhauls nation’s largest virtual catalog of online courses, marks progress on system-wide improvement to distance education

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Chancellor Brice W. Harris today announced that the California Community Colleges has upgraded its web-based catalog of online college courses, California Virtual Campus, to make it easier for students to find transferrable courses, marking a major milestone in the system’s bid to improve student access and completion rates through enhanced distance education services.

Thanks to the upgrade, classes required to earn an associate degree under a streamlined guaranteed transfer program with California State University known as Associate Degree for Transfer, will be prioritized on the website’s course search results page.

“The exciting upgrades we’ve made to the catalog will allow students to clearly and quickly see what classes fulfill transfer program requirements and serve to improve pathways to CSU, a significant step in our drive to foster student success through improved online education,” Harris said.

The California Virtual Campus provides information on more than 2,500 courses that satisfy Associate Degree for Transfer requirements and 1,400 other academic degree programs offered entirely online to students. In total, the catalog offers information on more than 19,000 online courses in California offered by the community colleges, CSU, UC and private colleges, and is available to students at all of these institutions.

The upgrade makes it easier for students to use the tool on their phones and provides online support if they have questions about navigating the college system. It also allows students to search courses by geographic location and narrow course search results by subject or college. The website can be found at

“This improved virtual catalog is part of a broader offering of services developed as part of the Online Education Initiative,” Harris continued. “The investment made by the governor and Legislature in this initiative places a heavy emphasis on support services tailored to the diverse needs of our 2.1 million students.”

Other online education improvements being developed by the initiative to increase student success and retention rates include:

Increasing online course quality through instructional design support and professional development resources for faculty;

Providing online tutoring and other student support services, including assessments to determine student readiness for online courses;

Providing tutorials to assist students in becoming successful online learners; and

Offering online course management systems for free or at low cost to the individual community college campuses.

The improvements are possible through a five-year, $57 million investment in California community college online education made by the governor and Legislature in 2013. The initiative is a partnership between Foothill-De Anza Community College District and Butte-Glenn Community College District.

For more information on California community college online education, please see the document below.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation composed of 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training, basic skills education and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions. The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. For more information about the community colleges, please visit,, or



California community colleges lead the way in online education

Over 29 percent of all California community college students will take a class offered through distance education this year, up from 12.5 percent in 2005-2006.

Of all courses offered at California’s community colleges, 18.1 percent are offered through distance

education, and it is estimated that nearly 60 percent of all courses have some online component.

California community colleges first started offering distance education courses in 1979.

Of the 2.1 million students enrolled in the 2013-2014 academic year, 654,344 took at least one distance education course.

The average course load of all California community college students in 2013-2014 was 12 units. The average course load of students who enrolled in distance education courses was 15 units.

Distance education more than doubled from 21,414 sessions in 2005-2006 to 43,545 in 2013-2014.

Two age categories – 18- to 19-year-olds and 20- to -24- year olds – account for 57 percent of those enrolled in distance education courses in 2013-2014.

Thirty-seven percent of students surveyed in 2011 said they enrolled in at least one distance education course because of the convenience.

Sixty percent of California’s community colleges offer certificates and degrees that can be earned without stepping onto campus for classes. This typically includes a combination of both online and television courses.

The Internet provides California community college students with 93.7 percent of the distance education offerings. Television is next with 2.2 percent, followed by correspondence (2 percent) and video conferencing (1 percent).