Cal State Online hopes to provide new degree opportunities

The California State University system has chosen the company Pearson to launch Cal State Online, a completely online option for people looking to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Cal State Online will be a fully online option for students who have dropped out of the CSU system and found it difficult to return to school.

“One of the main focuses of the effort is to increase access to nontraditional working professionals who have previously been affiliated with CSU,” said Claudia Keith, assistant vice chancellor and public affairs for California State University. “It is also a way to meet California’s economic and workforce development needs.”

The targeted students for Cal State Online are those who have not taken courses on a California State University campus for at least 15 months, but have not been absent from the system for more than 60 months, Keith said. These students must also have taken a minimum of 80 transfer units. Forty of these units must have been taken at a CSU.

The program is not limited to students in California. Students on a national and international level will be able to take courses through Cal State Online.

“Cal State Online provides another opportunity for the CSU to offer access to a college education,” Fresno State President John Welty said. “This will provide new opportunities for people who cannot physically get to a campus or who are constrained by time due to a job or family obligations.”

Pearson will be providing Cal State Online with a cloud-based learning management system and a digital content repository, said Susan Aspey, vice president of media relations for Pearson. It will also help train faculty to use the system.

“We work very hard to create products and services that help students get where they want to go,” Aspey said.

The California State University system is the seventh statewide system to work with Pearson to launch its online program.

Cal State Online will feature social and mobile aspects that are meant to encourage collaboration throughout the program. Some of these tools include social profiles, avatars, chat and group chat access, an activity feed and Skype. With the mobile access, students will be able to participate in class discussion and access their grades from a smartphone.

“This flexibility is especially important for today’s nontraditional students who are using online learning to meet their education and career goals,” Aspey said.

Cal State Online should be ready to launch January 2013.