HLC Self Study
Chapter 6 Graphic

Distance Learning at Estrella Mountain Community College

Since 2001, Estrella Mountain has supported faculty in building courses and programs in both hybrid and online formats to increase opportunities for students to learn anytime, anywhere. Eighteen members of the College community took eight months (November 2001-June 2002) to conduct a broad investigation into the best practices related to learning with technology. The College’s Senior Leadership charged the E-Learning Task Force with the work of considering all relevant aspects of E-Learning so that Estrella Mountain charts an informed and appropriate course in the rapidly expanding world of educational technology.

An internal grant application program was initiated for faculty members to develop courses in hybrid, online and technology-enhanced formats. Mandatory training in blended learning pedagogy was part of the development process. Criteria guiding the grant process includes the development first of the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) courses to create options for students. In addition, courses have been developed that support the completion of certificate and specialized programs online (e.g. Gifted Education Endorsement program, Speech Language Pathology Assistant program).  In 2007, a Sloan Foundation Grant, entitled Expanding Our Community with Blended Learning Programs, bolstered the development of this effort at Estrella Mountain. 

Today, 91 percent of the AGEC courses (a 35-credit certificate) can be completed through combining hybrid and online offerings at the College. Approximately 30 percent of Estrella Mountain Community College’s student population are taking courses in one or both of these modalities. Student performance and retention rates within hybrid and online courses at the College closely mirror the success of students in face-to-face classes. The E-Learning Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from all instructional divisions, oversees the program. During the 2009-2010 academic year, an audit was done of the hybrid and online course bank to better inform future decisions regarding course development. In fall 2010, the E-Learning Advisory Committee developed new guiding principles for future development of this strategic resource for the College.