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Turning Point for California Online Higher Education

Facing Classroom Bottlenecks that Limit Access, California College Students Share Experiences, Unmet Needs for Online Learning with Officials and Policy Makers at Conference

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Can online environments in higher education help us better serve students?  Are the online courses of today working for students? To answer these questions, the 20 Million Minds Foundation will host the EVOLVE California Higher Education conference on Friday, January 17, 2014 in downtown Los Angeles. EVOLVE will highlight California's diverse student populations, including the perspectives of students of color. Student panelists will share their experiences – and unmet education needs – with a roster of higher education officials, faculty, and advocates.

From 2002 to 2013, online course enrollments have grown from 10 to 33.5 percent, with the largest increases seen at community colleges. With online enrollment steadily climbing and California investing $16.9M towards additional community college online efforts in 2014 alone, ($66.9 million total over the next 6 and a half years) EVOLVE will provide critical student input around online course delivery tools necessary to address the specific needs of a widely varied population of students and ensure their success in digital environments.

"We have cutting-edge technologies now available, and if we make the right investments, California will remain a leader in technology and education," said Dean Florez, 20 Million Minds President & CEO. "For the first time ever we'll hear directly from a wide range of students about online learning to figure out what works, what does not work, and what we should be doing to improve online education across California."

Keynoting the event will be California State Senator Holly Mitchell (D – Los Angeles). The mother of a middle-schooler, Senator Mitchell understands the concerns of working families and is a tireless advocate for legislative policy that improves quality and access to the state's health and education systems.

The conference follows Governor Jerry Brown's recent announcement of a one-time, $50M General Fund "Award for Innovation" in higher education. The award is aimed at incentivizing the segments to continue implementing plans to remove course bottlenecks and expand investments in technology that allow students to complete their degrees sooner.

In an interview with the 20 Million Minds Foundation, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg further iterated, "We must use technology to give students more access to try to bring down the cost. [We must] keep moving forward and use the best of technology."

For math alone, online presents an opportunity to grow access where demand far exceeds supply. With only 15 percent of community college students testing into transfer level mathematics courses, there is a tremendous need for basic skills math sections; however, only about 25 percent of math classes in the community college system are basic skills, raising an immediate red flag. But online math courses must be innovative and include student support services and a suite of tools for a demographic that struggles with the subject. This poses an obvious challenge; nevertheless, it should not serve as a deterrent to innovation.

"The world is being invented and reinvented and it might as well be invented and reinvented here," stated Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. "If we don't lead on online education someone else will. Students are the greatest force for change, which is why I am glad 20 Million Minds is hosting this student centered conference."  

What:  EVOLVE: California Higher Education- Engaging Students in the Online Conversation When:  Friday, January 17, 2014
9:30 AM - 2:30 PM PST
Where:  Hub LA - 830 Traction Ave #3a, Los Angeles, CA 
Livesteam:  ‎EVOLVE.20mm.org
Hashtag:  #20mmEVOLVE

The 20 Million Minds Foundation (20MM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing higher education into the digital age through public and private partnerships that increase access, affordability, and student success. 20MM and its initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Dr. Gary Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.

Visit www.20MM.org, follow us @20MillionMinds, and subscribe to our 20 Million Minds YouTube Channel

TAGS: California higher education, higher ed, online education, online learning, elearning, student online conference, 20MM, Twenty Million Minds Foundation, Dr. Gary Michelson, Alya Michelson, Dean Florez, online initiatives, bottleneck problem, basic skills, education policy, minority students, diversity, student completion, technology, student savings, online student success, college access.

CONTACT: Reid E. Milburn
Cell: 916.969.6171
Tel: 626.396.7071
Email: Red@20mm.org

SOURCE The 20 Million Minds Foundation

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