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California Community Colleges Online Education InitiativeSince Spring 2015, the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) has been piloting and improving an online-learning readiness program known as the Quest for Online Success (Quest Program).

The primary goal of this program is to prepare students to successfully complete their online courses. A secondary goal is to provide easy access to student support resources throughout the term for students registered in online courses.

A comprehensive Quest Workshop—which includes the Quest Program combined with SmarterMeasure diagnostic assessments, instructional materials and quizzes—has until now been available only to OEI pilot colleges for students taking OEI-related courses. While all materials are Creative Commons-licensed, OEI was previously unable to release the entire program to all CCCs because it included SmarterMeasure, a vendor product.

The OEI has recently negotiated a contract that allows all CCCs, for at least one year, to use the Quest Program with SmarterMeasure for all prospective and currently enrolled online students.

Quest Program

The Quest Program includes 11 highly interactive and fully accessible tutorials and four tools, all of which are Creative Commons-licensed and available to all California community colleges at http://apps.3cmediasolutions.org/oei/.

Tutorials include:

  • Introduction to Online Learning
  • Getting Tech Ready
  • Organizing for Online Success
  • Online Study Skills and Managing Time
  • Communication Skills for Online Learning
  • Online Reading Strategies
  • Career Planning
  • Educational Planning
  • Educational Support
  • Personal Support
  • Financial Planning

Tools include:

  • Cost Calculator
  • Computer Readiness Test
  • Daily Schedule Calculator
  • Study Schedule

Quest Workshop

The comprehensive Quest Workshop, developed in a Canvas course shell, includes all of the resources listed above plus:

1. SmarterMeasure, a web-based, diagnostic assessment that quantifies a learner’s readiness for online learning by measuring seven factors including learning styles, life factors, individual attributes, technical competency and knowledge, on-screen reading rates and recall, and typing speed and accuracy. The first six tutorials listed above were developed based on the SmarterMeasure assessment. A student’s SmarterMeasure results are graphically presented making it easy for them to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Students are encouraged to pay particular attention to specific tutorials based on their SmarterMeasure results.

2. The 11 tutorials and four tools are combined with instructional materials such as module overviews, supplemental materials, access to local college resources for OEI pilot schools, and check-on-learning quizzes to create the following Quest modules:

For novice online learners:

  • Identifying your Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Introduction to Online Learning
  • Getting Tech Ready
  • Becoming an Effective Online Learner

For experienced online learners:

  • Becoming an Effective Online Learner
  • Career Planning
  • Educational Planning
  • Instructional Support
  • Personal Support
  • Financial Planning

Improving Quest Through Research

The OEI has partnered with the RP Group (The Research & Planning Group for California Community Colleges) which has generated reports that enabled the OEI to make evidence-based improvements to the Quest Program. For example, student satisfaction and student reports regarding helpfulness of modules support the decision to recommend the “Becoming an Effective Online Learner” module for all students. In general, students are most satisfied with the modules for novice online learners. In response to student concerns about the length of the program, we continue to improve Quest instructions to students that they do not need to complete all modules, and certainly not at one sitting.

Accessibility Designed In

The tutorials are fully accessible to everyone including individuals with disabilities. OEI hired the creator of Able Player, a fully accessible cross-browser media player, to assist in the continued development of the tutorials. Able Player is an open source project that itself has many additional innovative features, such as an interactive transcript built by combining time-synchronized content from the chapters, captions, and description tracks, as well as a set of preferences dialogs that enable users to customize the appearance of closed captions and define keyboard shortcuts that can be used to operate the media player from anywhere on the web page.

The tutorials are fully accessible to students who are blind or have visual impairments who use audible screen readers, Braille output devices, or other assistive technologies to interact with computers; students who are deaf or hard of hearing who depend on transcripts and captions in order to access audio and audiovisual content; students who have physical disabilities that prevent them from using a mouse, so instead they operate the computer using keyboard alone, speech recognition systems, or other alternative input technologies; and students who have dyslexia or other learning or cognitive disabilities and therefore benefit from multimodal learning experiences that engage multiple senses. During development of the latest version of the Quest tutorials, additional features were added to Able Player revolutionizing what is possible with standards-based HTML5 media.

Canvas Not Required

With a contract in place, the Quest Program with SmarterMeasure is now available for use by all California community colleges for all prospective and currently enrolled online students. Schools that have not adopted Canvas college-wide can still use the Quest program.

The OEI has communicated to the 24 OEI pilot colleges about the expanded use of Quest for all online learners at their schools. Our goal is to communicate with Distance Learning coordinators at the other 89 colleges as soon as possible so your fall online students will be able to take advantage of this resource.

Please look for an email from Bonnie Peters and Anita Crawley that will include how to import the Quest program and make it available to online students prior to the beginning of the term as well as how to make Quest available to students throughout the term.


Bonnie Peters is Chief Student Services Officer of
the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative

Anita Crawley is Readiness Coordinator of
the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative