#24 of 30in30: Imagine learning Chinese from your couch and earning college credit too

Shared Services Distance Learning

Picture this — You’re planning out your last two semesters before graduation when all of a sudden you realize you’ve got one class that’s not offered at your college for either semester! If you’re like me this is when you’re heart sinks and your eyes well up with tears. You were so close to graduating, but that one lousy class is holding you back.

If you haven’t been in this situation, consider yourself lucky. But for many of you that have – cheer up! Northern Virginia Community College’s Shared Services Distance Learning (SSDL) program has come to your rescue and we’re making sure this issue won’t happen any longer.

What is it?

We implemented phase one of the program pilot to 10 of our colleges in the fall of 2011. Each partnering college is sharing online courses from Northern Virginia Community College through their Extended Learning Institute.

You can enroll in these courses just as you would any other course at your college. Financial Aid won’t change and will cover the cost. Oh AND it will appear on your transcript as your home college’s course.

Want to know more? Check out the offerings available through the SSDL in your college’s schedule. Then become familiar with the student steps and you’re one step closer to graduation!!

Think you’re going to miss out, well think again! Through SSDL, students have access to an online tutoring tool called SmartThinking, a virtual student union and access to 24/7 technical support.

Who is it helping?

 These classes aren’t only available to students who might be stuck in a rut.  Maybe you’ve got a lot going on and online classes are the only type that work with your schedule — no matter your situation — if they’re offered at your college, you can take them. Just sign up when your college opens registration for the semester.

Where is it offered?

 What are we learning from it?

Inez H. Farrell, director of the SSDL program, told me we are learning a lot from the two semesters we’ve used this program.

We are learning that students are enthusiastic about taking the courses their colleges are sharing. The enrollment for those partners who started with us in fall11 has doubled and in some cases (like Eastern Shore) quadrupled.

Also, students are saving money by taking the courses through their home college. They pay their home college tuition, not NOVA’s, and benefit from Financial Aid at their home college. Systemwide, tuition savings from fall11 to sp12 was a total of $53,232. In some cases, students are able to complete their degree at their home college by taking a course they needed that the home college did not offer that semester.

She told me the foreign language courses are very popular and students commenting favorably on their experience. The partner colleges are having similar positive experiences:

Partner colleges comment that this is a win/win for them. In some cases they find there is enough demand for a course that it will allow them to include it in their campus offerings.

What does the future hold?

This is only the beginning. Over 1,000 students have taken advantage of SSDL and more colleges are expressing an interest in becoming part of the partnership. As phase one of the pilot concludes they will begin to discuss the next steps on expanding this project.

Keep up with this reengineering initiative at rethink.vccs.edu/.

Editor’s Note: 30 Ways in 30 Days Virginia’s Community Colleges are Elevating Virginia is a month-long blog series dedicated to exploring some of the many creative and inspiring ways our colleges are helping people find and create opportunity. The series is part of the VCCS tribute to National Community College Month. To read more of the series just click on the “30 ways in 30 days” category.

2 Responses to “ #24 of 30in30: Imagine learning Chinese from your couch and earning college credit too ”

  1. I am a junior in high school and would like to take an online course this summer in Chinese for possible college credit. Is that possible through this website?


  2. Hey Holly-

    Thanks for reaching out to us! Your best bet is to head over to http://eli.nvcc.edu/ — the website should have all of the info you are looking for like contact numbers, how to apply and more information on extended learning.

    I’d also recommend checking out their Fall 2012 schedule of courses to see if they are offering the Chinese class you’d like to take. FYI: In the drop down bar use CHI to search for Chinese language courses.

    Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any other questions you may have, here or on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/VaCommunityColleges


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