Odessa College's online program includes free online textbooks.

As colleges feel the pressure to help more students complete their degrees, a growing number have launched online programs to better meet students’ needs. In just its first year, Texas’ Odessa College is becoming a model for other schools to look at as they consider their own online programs.

Odessa College’s innovative online program, OC Global, aims to capitalize on student resources and reach new heights after its first year.

Corey Davis, executive direction for OC Global, said he has been overall pleased with the program this year but hopes to expand on the ease of technology available to students and improve on the layouts for students.

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“The idea is to promote joy in our classes,” Davis said.

Davis said the entire purpose of the program is to make courses affordable, user friendly, and mobile. The courses are affordable because almost all of the classes come with a free online textbook.

The user-friendly component is constantly being tweaked, Davis said. The program will implement a new a cascading reader text, ReadSpeaker, to increase reading comprehension over the summer. The other component is making everything available with software students have.

“We know our students have cell phones and Facebook, and we want to capitalize on that,” Davis said.

Students in the program can receive alerts and text messages from the courses via text message.

About 50 percent of each course is available through a basic cell phone, and 80 percent is available on a smart phone, Davis said. The goal is to reach 100 percent for both.

“It will take us a while to get there,” Davis said.

Until then, students can use their own hardware and software or the computer labs on campus.

Jeff Villarreal, a 24-year-old pursuing a degree in political science through OC, said he has not yet taken a class through OC Global but he hopes to. After working in the program’s technical services department, he said he much prefers OC Global compared to the older online courses because they are more convenient and easier.

“Global classes are a lot faster, and I like the pace,” Villarreal said.

Over the years, Odessa College has felt the effects of the shifts in student population as Odessa has with the booms and busts of the oil industry, Davis said. OC Global came from the idea of wanting to keep more students in school regardless of the industry and making the courses the most accessible to students as possible.

The classes are self-paced and entirely online.


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