To quote CalMatters: “Calbright’s Star is Rising” in 2023, and people noticed!
Many of the articles covering Calbright this past year made mention of our significant gains in enrollment and program completion: Calbright more than doubled both in 2023, and now has almost 4,000 enrolled students and has awarded over 435 certificates of completion. That was the focus of the CalMatters article, along with coverage in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
But so many of Calbright’s media mentions were more than just acknowledgements that California’s first statewide, exclusively online, community college district has become a success story. Rather, they focused on our unique education model and the innovations it pioneers.
That’s the case in a second article in The Chronicle, which highlighted Calbright’s role as the leading edge of the learning curve that can serve as a blueprint for other providers of online education, saying; “its latest moves offer some interesting lessons on ways to design colleges around students’ needs.”
To the surprise of many observers, Calbright threw out the entire Carnegie credit hour system—and threw out grading and degrees along with it. Instead, the college substitutes a competency-based education (CBE) model, which awards academic credit towards certificates based not on time but on the demonstrated mastery of clearly defined competencies.
Calbright officials point out that their CBE model’s individualized and flexible online instruction enables students to master material as quickly as they are able, which for thousands of students could be much sooner than a traditional college’s 15-week semester. Students can take extra time at a slower pace on difficult lessons, but they can also move swiftly through easier lessons they already understand.
That flexible pacing offers an attractive benefit to Calbright’s target market of busy working-age adults. It can help them reduce the time they need to invest to earn their credentials. Calbright says that working adults studying only five hours a week can complete most of its certificate programs in less than a year, but a full-time student could earn a certificate in as little as two months.
Many other media mentions consulted with Calbright’s leadership as experts in the field.
Calbright’s president, Ajita Talwalker Menon, addressed the future of accountability in online education at the National Press Club, spoke to The Illumination podcast about designing colleges around student needs, and was a panelist for a webinar organized by California Competes on the future of online education.
Menon also appeared, alongside Calbright’s Student Body Organization President Jeremy Cox, on LA Times Today to discuss how the College’s programs work.
Meanwhile Calbright’s Vice President of Workforce, Strategy, and Innovation, Michael Younger appeared on the EdScoop Podcast to discuss what makes Calbright’s programs effective.
It’s a recognition, not only of our success, but of the contribution that the work and research we’re doing can make to the future of student centered online learning.