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SAN FRANCISCO -- Some community colleges are exploring ways to use massive open online courses and open educational resources in their curriculums, but plenty are skeptical. Those are among the findings of a new survey of distance education officials at community colleges, released here on Monday. The survey was conducted by the Instructional Technology Council and was released at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges.

The council, an affiliate of the two-year-college association, conducts annual surveys on a range of distance education and technology issues at community colleges. This year's was the first to ask about MOOCs and open educational resources, free online resources that can be used in teaching. Both MOOCs and OERs have been promoted as ways to help cash-strapped community colleges educate more students, many of whom themselves are cash-strapped.

On MOOCs, the survey found that only 1 percent of community colleges are offering course credits or certificates for MOOC completion. While another 44 are "beginning to explore options" that might incorporate MOOC content into programs, 42 percent reported that they had no plans to do so.

"As would be expected with something so new, campuses are cautious in their approach. Many community colleges are skeptical that a large-enrollment solution is appropriate for campuses that believe in smaller, more personalized instruction," says a report on the survey.

On OERs as well those surveyed include enthusiasts and skeptics. Only 36 percent anticipated a "significant impact" of OER at community colleges. Asked about roadblocks to using OER at community colleges, survey respondents cited the following (they could cite multiple reasons):

  • The time faculty members need to locate and evaluate OERs (67 percent).
  • Lack of faculty awareness (66 percent).
  • Concerns about the credibility of some resources (45 percent).
  • Lack of related materials (21 percent).
  • Resistance from the administration (14 percent).

In looking at other trends, the council survey found respondents reporting increased growth in online enrollments, but at lower rates than in years past. Much of the growth is coming in hybrid or blended courses.

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