Community College Course Sharing Initiative Opens Access to STEM and Other Courses in Rural and Remote Texas | Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas, December 1, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The digital higher education consortium of Texas (DigiTex), a coalition of community colleges from Texas, announced today that it has received a $ 645,405 grant from the Founding of Greater Texas for its flagship project, Leveraging Course Sharing to Support Texas Pathways at Scale. This funding will expand a collaboration between Texas community colleges and Academy, the creator of an online course-sharing platform used by nearly 400 colleges and universities, to increase access to STEM and short-term courses and in turn improve persistence and on-time completion thanks to guided tours.

“Too often, the limited nature of course offerings at rural and remote community colleges can create unintended barriers for learners as they navigate meaningful degrees while balancing their lives,” said Judith Sebesta, executive director of DigiTex. “This grant extends the work already underway to help Texas community colleges are working together more strategically to share solutions and ideas that allow us to better meet our challenges head-on. By sharing courses with each other, we can ensure that every learner in our state has access to the courses in demand, no matter where they live. “

The new project will address two main goals, first to increase the number of STEM courses and short-term in-demand courses that are part of the existing course sharing initiative. Second, the new funding will help partner colleges better implement course sharing strategies to ensure learners can access and follow these in-demand pathways.

On-time graduation rates continue to be a significant issue for community colleges. Data from National Center for Education Statistics in 2020 show that only 13% of community college students graduate in two years. In Texas, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Council reported in 2020, the average time to complete an associate’s degree was 3.9 years; meanwhile, the three-year graduation rates for full-time students were 24.9% and for part-time students 13.1%. Guided trails have proven to be an effective solution to this problem and research shows that the practices used in guided pathway programs can lead to better outcomes for students. However, many colleges do not have access to the courses needed to consistently create and track in-demand pathways and support on-time completion.

“Community colleges have enormous potential to be engines of economic growth within their communities,” said Austin Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Richard rhodes. “We are proud to deploy course sharing to ensure that in-demand certificate and degree pathways can reach students in all geographies to deliver on this promise of growth opportunity. “

The new project builds on the recent success of online course sharing among community college networks, including the Innovation League Online Course Sharing Consortium. More than two dozen community colleges across the country are supported by the Acadeum course sharing platform. Course sharing helps learners access courses they might not have taken otherwise, keeping them on track to complete them on time. Courses offered through lesson-sharing consortia, such as DigiTex, fully count towards surrogacy, financial aid, and graduation requirements at students’ home institutions, ensuring that learners don’t lose out. no credits or time on their way to an in-demand degree. Acadeum’s network of consortia now includes more than 400 higher education institutions and a global catalog of more than 40,000 online courses.

The new award will contribute to the Greater Texas Foundation’s transfer, transition and counseling goal, as well as the goals of the state’s higher education plan, 60x30TX, increasing access to affordable, in-demand and just-in-time courses to follow the guided routes it doesn’t matter where a student resides in the state. To learn more about DigiTex’s course sharing work, visit https://digitex.org/course-sharing-2/.

About DigiTex

Since its founding as a Virtual College of Texas in 1998, DigiTex facilitated inter-institutional course sharing across the state, with over 50,000 students accessing the courses needed to graduate. DigiTex also supports the adaptation, development and implementation of Open Educational Resources (OER); heads the Texas Quality Matters Consortium; and conducts research on digital education, among other activities. DigiTex is based in Austin Community College District.

About the Greater Texas Foundation

The Greater Texas Foundation supports initiatives that increase post-secondary enrollment and completion rates for all Texas students, with a particular focus on students who may face barriers to post-secondary success. Greater Texas Foundation is a private foundation headquartered in Bryan, Texas. Since its inception, the Greater Texas Foundation has approved more than $ 104 million in grants to support Texas students. For more information visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org.

About the Academy

Acadeum helps colleges and universities create academic partnerships with like-minded institutions to support student progress and equitable access. Today, more than 380 higher education institutions use Acadeum’s course sharing network to place students in the online courses they need to stay on track to timely graduation. Institutions derive new income from the courses they offer through the network, by sharing the tuition fees for courses taken by their students and by keeping at-risk students enrolled. To learn more about Acadeum, please visit www.acadeum.com.

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