I recently went to Broward College and..
Where Do I Go To If I Have Question About Online Learning Broward College
Broward College is a well-regarded community college in South Florida. I’ve been attending BCC for years. I attend all of my classes through the ACCESS system, an online program designed to serve students who don’t have time to travel to the College’s campuses to complete classes they need. We no longer call what the institution does “community college,” even though millions of Americans over the age of 25 still go to community colleges. BCC is now a for-profit corporation. For many of us, that made little difference, because it’s not the case where we have a work schedule that makes it impossible to live in the community.
But despite the benefits to Broward College and the way it’s been able to accomplish great things for many people, it now faces big challenges. The recent merger with another for-profit institution—Chase-Educational (Chase)—requires creating new business models in a time of “transformational change.” One of those new business models is online learning.
Online learning has many benefits. I myself use online courses all the time for training and research. I know few academic institutions have an online degree program as strong as BCC’s Computer Computer Assisted Learning (CCAL) program. Without mentioning names, I do know that many institutions of higher education cannot, in any way, compete with it in terms of content. And because of their volume of students using online programs, college executives know they can cheaply (or, in many cases, free) include some in their expenses for helping them “academically succeed.”
Even still, online learning is not perfect. Students with higher expectations of quality need to be given at least equal tools to be successful. Anybody with concerns about online learning at BCC should do their homework. Our team at the School of Technology gets to know our students well. We speak to students who are parents, who are working parents, who work full-time jobs while trying to finish an online course. We know how hard they work, and, more importantly, we know how much they love their jobs.
Maybe you know the college well, and you are familiar with the option of a “pay-as-you-go” model. That means you enroll in a course and then pay no money up front. You take the course, complete it successfully, and then when you can afford it, you get your credit toward a degree.
Broward College’s most popular course at the moment, CCAL, is paid online. And at this time, that can range anywhere from $225 to $500 per class. My computer savvy colleague’s daughter completed her online course in 12 weeks. Her family planned one full-time job per semester, which cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,500 to $4,000 per semester. Yes, $3500. The price is part of the reason we strongly encourage students to take courses at the college in person when possible.
There are other benefits to both online and traditional college programs. In terms of job opportunities and career paths, online programs are a growing necessity. And then there are the student finance options. Not everyone can afford to attend BCC in person. This means having an open mind about what we offer on the online side of the ledger. It also means studying each department’s online offerings and working with their curriculum to offer the classes students will benefit from.
We are trying new things at BCC. We are trying to provide smaller, more intimate class spaces to students who might not otherwise have the time or ability to attend an on-campus class. We’re also working to establish better relationships with technology companies and enhance and increase the amount of in-person training the college offers. We’re not waiting for the next economic downturn. We’re doing our best to adjust to the new economy and keep our institution robust for the future. And we’re looking to our new business model to help us do that.