College of Marin offers new online career programs
College of Marin students aiming for careers in business, multimedia or hospitality now have online courses available that meet standards for certificates or possible transfer to four-year colleges, the school said.
The courses, developed over the past year and a half, will be available in January, said Nicole Cruz, a spokeswoman for the college.
“These three entirely online career pathway programs will give students more options in how they can complete degrees and certificates in these fields,” Cruz said.
Cruz said the college, in creating the peer-reviewed courses, joins a network of about 30 community colleges called the “California Virtual Campus — Online Education Initiative.”
The network has a shared website so that students who need certain classes that are not offered at their home college may enroll at a different school in the group.
“All courses in this platform are offered asynchronously,” Cruz said. “That means that while students have deadlines to meet, there are no set class times they must attend to complete the course.”
Cari Torres-Benavides, an assistant vice president at College of Marin, said the school has been working on upgrading its online programs since April 2019, when it received a state grant for career technical education development. Torres-Benavides co-authored the grant with Stacey Lince, an instructional designer.
“Career and technical education happened to be one of the areas where we had the most developed online courses that lead to complete degree and certificate pathways, and faculty who completed online training in online learning,” Lince said.
Earlier this year, after the pandemic hit, the school intensified its faculty training in how to teach online and how to create online curricula. Lince and Kathleen Smyth, the college’s distance education coordinator, worked with faculty to bring missing courses online that students would need in order to complete a certificate or degree.
That included bringing general education courses online that also meet University of California and California State University requirements for transfer.
“It’s a process, it’s an evolution,” Smyth said.
“It’s not like face-to-face when you could give the same lectures each semester with few tweaks,” she said. “You can’t do that online. You must be more creative, and you must keep adjusting what you’re doing to ensure your course is well designed, engaging and accessible.”
Torres-Benavides added that the three courses are seen as the first step in College of Marin being able to offer “an expanded cross-section of online course offerings that meet general education and major preparation requirements.”