by Alex Organa, staff writer

Big changes are happening to online classes at PPSC, yet, these changes have likely not entered the radar of many students. The changes come at the state level, and will change the way registration looks this year.

Currently, the state is transitioning its online program from CCCOnline, the current state-wide online system for Colorado community colleges, to Colorado Online@ (CO@). This transition has sparked a lot of questions for what the future will hold for online students.

On the PPSC website, there is minimal information about CO@. Besides the CO@ Handbook, a guide for faculty starting the program, there is nothing readily available for students looking for answers.

Cynthia Krutsinger, dean of online learning at PPSC says the transition to CO@ from CCCOnline as stemming from a need to adapt the online learning system to reflect the current needs of the 13 colleges in the Colorado Community College System (CCCS).

CO@ will pool classes from colleges around the state, meaning that if you sign up for a CO@ section, you may be in classes with other students from around the state. Krutsinger says this move may serve to help programs and classes that have low enrollment. “Courses which may have had too low enrollment to run in the past will now have students from across the CCCS enrolled allowing the courses to run,” she says.

This pooling of classes, however, will mean that students will potentially be taking classes from professors from other colleges.

In the Spring and Summer 2023 semesters, CO@ started replacing CCCOnline classes on a small scale. However, the Fall 2023 semester has seen a larger scale implementation of the new system. Spring 2024 will continue this trend, and CO@ will be in full implementation by Fall 2024.

“The goal is to provide equitable access to all students, while simultaneously saving students money through cost saving measures such as the adoption of Open Education Resources, and placing instruction under the direct hands of accredited institutions (the colleges),” Krutsinger says.

The use of OER, which is already udnerway in many classes, will undoubtedly save students money by eliminating the need to purchase textbooks. Additionally, Krutsinger says that smaller programs may benefit from the transition by allowing classes with low enrollment that would usually be cancelled in-person to be available online.

Only time will tell.

When navigating online classes in the future, the main things to remember are:

  • Online classes will still be available but may be taught by professors not at PPSC. Look for a “Z” or “X” in the course section number to know if you are signing up for a CO@ class.
  • CO@ is a transition that should not greatly affect the day-to-day lives of online students but will be noticeable in how classes are organized.
  • Smaller programs should expect to see more classes move online through CO@ to allow for higher enrollment per class.
  • OER is going to take the place of textbooks in many online classes.

For students who have more questions and want to stay current with what’s going on with CO@, the website is the best place to visit. The site offers resources for students who need clarification during this time. The FAQ has a student-services section that offers further insight into things like textbooks, tutoring, and transcript management.

As online classes continue to change to accommodate more students, it can be easy to feel lost. While these alterations take place, it is important to remember that nothing is set in stone.

There are a lot of moving pieces and challenges that arise when implementing something on such a large scale. Nonetheless, there are resources available for those needing answers.