Background on the California Community Colleges (CCC) Professional Learning Network
The Professional Learning Network has been a highly collaborative project several years in the making. Below is a brief background on its origin and purpose.
Task Force Calls for Improvements.
In January 2011, the CCC Board of Governors initiated a 12-month strategic planning process to identify a course of action for improving student outcomes. To develop an improvement plan, the Board formed the Student Success Task Force, which consisted of 21 members from inside and outside the CCC system. In December 2011, the task force released a comprehensive report containing 22 recommendations designed to foster greater student success. Key areas of emphasis in the report included strengthening student support services for students and rethinking basic skills (developmental) education.
Professional Development Cited As Key to Innovation.
The task force stressed the importance of professional development in supporting implementation of these reforms and improving student outcomes. As the task force emphasized, “To accomplish major changes in the California Community Colleges, professional development must be at the center of this discussion.” Specifically, the task force recommended that community colleges create a system of focused and sustained opportunities for all college personnel to learn from each other and build their skills. The task force further recommended that the Chancellor’s Office “explore the use of myriad approaches to providing professional development, including . . . the use of technology.”
Board of Governors Endorses Task Force Recommendations.
In January 2012, the Board unanimously endorsed the 22 task force recommendations, adopting them as a guiding policy framework for the CCC system and eventually embedding the recommendations into the System Strategic Plan. Since that time, the Chancellor’s Office has been working with the colleges to implement each of the recommendations.
System-wide Committee Re-imagines Professional Development.
To help implement the task force and Board’s collective vision for professional development, the Chancellor’s Office formed a 30-member “Student Success Initiative Professional Development Committee” in fall 2012. The charge of the committee was to develop ideas and strategies to “revitalize and re-envision” professional development in the CCC system. In September 2013, the committee presented its findings and recommendations to the Board. A key recommendation from the committee was for the Chancellor’s Office to create a “virtual professional development resource center”—a “one-stop shop” for colleges and their employees to access effective practices, trainings, and other resources.
In 2014, the system’s Online Education Initiative provided seed monies to Telecommunications and Technology Infrastructure Program South (TTIP South) to oversee the technical build-out of the portal. TTIP South contracted with Remote Learner to be the web developer. To solicit input on that development effort, in November 2014, the Chancellor’s Office—in collaboration with the Academic Senate for CCC, CCC Success Network (3CSN), California Community College Council for Staff and Organizational Development (4C/SD), @ONE, Online Education Initiative, and Success Center for CCC—held six regional summits on the project. The purpose of the summits was to obtain input on desired features, functionalities, and content for the portal (known at the time by its working title, the “online clearinghouse”). These regional summits were attended by more than 500 faculty, staff, and administrators. Summit participants identified a number of desired features for the portal, including:
- peer-reviewed model curriculum and other content
- a library of self-paced video-based trainings
- a discussion board that allows personnel to communicate across colleges and program areas
- the opportunity for employees to create a personalized professional development plan
- a “speakers bureau” (a listing of experts who are available to speak at conferences)
- a system-wide events calendar
Summit participants suggested many topics and issues to include in the portal, such as:
- effective practices pertaining to basic skills education, career technical education, and other programs
- topics related to accreditation (including student learning outcomes and integrated planning)
- new employee orientation and training
- how to create robust professional development programs on campus
In April 2015, the Chancellor’s Office, Academic Senate, and other project partners held a webinar to solicit input from faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees who were unable to attend a regional summit. In May 2015, Blaine Morrow of TTIP South and Paul Steenhausen of the Success Center provided a demonstration of the beta site to the CCC Board of Governors.
Ongoing State Funding Provided for Professional Learning Network.
The 2014-15 state budget package created a new CCC program known as the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative. This initiative, which is led by the Chancellor’s Office, is designed to help colleges improve student success rates and address accreditation, fiscal, and other issues. The initiative’s advisory committee and professional development workgroup members provided extensive guidance and feedback on development of the Professional Learning Network, which is intended to supplement the many in-person workshops and other CCC events held throughout the year. The 2015-16 Budget Act provides ongoing support for the Professional Learning Network as part of the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative.