Oceanside CA– The MiraCosta Community College District has secured approval to significantly expand its online course offerings.
The go-ahead from the Committee on Substantive Change of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, means coastal North County’s largest higher education system can allow students to earn associate degrees entirely via “distance education” in up to 58 additional programs. MiraCosta also has the green light to offer up to 24 additional certificates of achievement and up to 16 additional certificates of proficiency via distance education.
Distance education is defined as education that uses technology to offer instruction to students who are separated from the instructor – a term that typically means online classes. Distance education occurs when 50 percent or more of the instructional class time occurs outside of the classroom. Included in this category are courses in which 100 percent of the class is online.
“One of the reasons we are going in this direction is because of access,” said Carlos Lopez, dean of MiraCosta College’ Mathematics and Sciences Department. “We simply do not have sufficient space to accommodate all of the growth we’ve experienced and expect to experience.”
While MiraCosta College has received approval to expand its online and distance education offerings, it is still months away from doing so; the logistics still need to be set in place if the college opts to pursue the matter.
But first, the college had to get approval from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. MiraCosta’s online offerings have expanded significantly since the first such course was offered in 1995. The number grew to 22 just four years later. Last fall, MiraCosta College offered 227 course sections that were entirely online and 83 hybrid course sections.
In 2010, nearly one-third of MiraCosta College students were enrolled in at least one distance education course; today that number is more than 44 percent. More than 12 percent of MiraCosta College students are enrolled solely in distance education courses, up from less than 9 percent in 2010.