College of Marin Joins Statewide Virtual Campus Program, Hosts Online Open House

Based in Kentfield and Novato, the College of Marin remains committed to providing a diverse community with affordable education, even during a pandmeic.

With that in mind, the college is joining a statewide movement known as the California Virtual Campus Online Education Initiative.

At the same time, the College of Marin launching three entirely online career pathway programs in Business, Multimedia and Hospitality for Marin County residents, especially those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

The California Virtual Campus Online Education Initiative is a collaborative effort by several California community colleges that offers online courses to students from these colleges on a shared website.

This initiative aims to provide students the chance to enroll in online courses that might not offered at their home college. All courses in this platform are offered asynchronously, meaning while students have deadlines to meet, there are no set class times they must attend to complete the course.

There are currently around 30 colleges in the shared program, and eventually the state’s community college system would like to see all of California’s 116 community colleges participating in it.

College of Marin began expanding online courses in 2019, and its Career Education programs became the first to be included in the initiative, and students can earn a certificate or degree for Business, Multimedia, and Hospitality with online courses.

“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,” says Stacey Lince, College of Marin’s instructional designer.

Along with getting more courses certified, Lince and College of Marin’s Assistant Vice President for Instruction Cari Torres-Benavides are also making online learning more accessible. They, along with the college’s Guided Pathways Committee members, will be overhauling the academics webpages to add interest clusters as a way to introduce students to academic majors, instead of using program names they may not be as familiar with.

Additionally, in an effort to assist with retraining Marin County residents who lost jobs due to COVID-related layoffs, College of Marin’s Career Education and Workforce Development Department customized its career courses for online delivery, and created new 12-week trainings that will run March 1 through May 28, 2021.

Job seekers can learn about the host of trainings offered at the college by attending a virtual open house on January 6 at 5:30pm.

According to recent labor market data from the Employment Development Department (EDD), Marin’s most impacted industry sectors are hospitality (3,800 losses), transportation and trade (2,000 losses), and professional services (1,200 losses). A growing number of laid-off workers across the U.S. in these hard-hit industries are switching to new careers or occupations. Many are transitioning to sectors that have thrived during the pandemic, such as technology, health care, real estate, banking, and warehousing and delivery.

“We dove into local labor market information, polled Marin business owners, met with Chamber of Commerce and Workforce Investment Board executives, as well as several directors of community-based service programs to make sure we were hitting the mark on our offerings,” says Katheryn Horton, College of Marin’s director of workforce programs. “Our goal is to provide in-demand skills training that will help folks get new jobs or promotions in an evolving job market.”

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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