Sharing courses to expand access

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A new national online course sharing initiative will expand course options for students.

Five community colleges are working together to expand students’ access to virtual courses, reduce time to degree completion and increase graduation rates. Tarrant County College, Austin Community College, Lamar Institute of Technology, Montgomery County Community College and Yavapai Community College are part of the League for Innovation Online Course Sharing Consortium.

The consortium is particularly important following the challenges of the pandemic, which forced many students to leave school or delay their re-enrollment.

The five colleges will work with the League for Innovation and a software and support firm called Acadeum to develop course-sharing partnerships.

For Tarrant County College (TCC), this work isn’t new. The college participates in the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas, known as Digitex—also organized by Acadeum. Through Digitex, 18 Texas community colleges share online courses.

What is new is that this new initiative means courses will be shared nationally.

Tarrant County College (TCC) in Texas provides online education through its sixth campus, TCC Connect. The campus offers 37 fully online programs and more than 350 courses. Enrollments for eLearning have increased approximately 18% since fall 2017, according a TCC release.

“As we offer select TCC Connect programs and courses to schools in the consortium, students will have greater flexibility to choose affordable courses and programs that are important to them and get them closer to their degree and career,” TCC Connect President Carlos Morales said. “Our participation benefits TCC by expanding our presence regionally and nationally and generating revenue with new students from other colleges enrolling in TCC’s virtual options. This is a win for everyone.”

TCC is expected to share its first courses—in programs such as business, accounting, marketing and general education—in fall 2021. Students will continue to pay tuition and maintain official enrollment through their home college while accessing courses from TCC. Acadeum will facilitate the logistics.

“Community colleges are incredibly important to the strength of our economy, particularly as we work to come back from the devastating impact of Covid-19,” TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini said. “By working together to increase access to online courses, we can make it easier for students to achieve their academic goals, get a well-paying job and contribute to their communities.”

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.