The past year has been a busy one for West Hills Community College District and has seen the growth and implementation of many new resources and programs.
Prior Learning Assessment
QuickPath, West Hills Community College District’s innovative new prior learning assessment program, is continuing to serve as a way for students to earn credit for the skills and knowledge they’ve earned outside of the classroom. A new and innovative part of the program, Portfolio Assessment, is set to be available to students in Fall 2018. The assessment would allow students to submit a portfolio showcasing experience or training they’ve had that could be considered the equivalent of a current West Hills course. If approved, the student would earn academic credit for the equivalent of that course. The portfolio PLA method will entail the student taking a Portfolio course, written by faculty at both colleges. The course will provide guidance to students as they develop the contents for their portfolio and ensure the portfolios meet the academic integrity of the colleges. Faculty are also working on developing PLA standards of practice and attended PLA-related conferences in November 2017 and February 2018 as part of their efforts.
Open Educational Resources
Open Educational Resources continue to be added to more course sections throughout the district, with free textbooks and other resources becoming available to more students. West Hills College Lemoore and West Hills College Coalinga are also moving forward with the implementation of Zero Textbook Cost Degrees (Z Degrees): associate degrees or career technical education certificates earned entirely by completing courses that use OER. WHCL implemented an Associate of Science Degree for Transfer in Psychology Z Degree in Spring 2018 and an Associate of Arts Degree for Transfer in Elementary Teacher Education is scheduled to launch a Z Degree in Fall 2018. Students during the Spring 2018 semester saved $283,800 in textbook costs.
At West Hills College Coalinga, planning is moving forward to implement a Zero Cost Kinesiology Associate’s Degree and a Zero Cost Certificate in Precision Agriculture. Faculty have started working on developing the programs. Several class sections have also started utilizing OER.
Geekwise Academy and Collaboration with Bitwise
West Hills continues its partnership with Fresno’s Bitwise, with students from both WHCC and WHCL getting the opportunity to participate in Bitwise’s Geekwise Academy. As part of the Academy and a joint partnership with West Hills College, the students learn computer programming languages including AngularJS and MEAN Stack and how to build websites and mobile apps.
The first cohort of this unique partnership completed the program within the past year with a high completion rate and a breadth of coding experience under their belts. The students in the initial group completed web and app development jobs for groups including UC San Francisco Fresno. Students in the first cohort completed between 4-8 websites or applications and generated between $1,000 to $12,000 per project. In the freelancing phase of the academy, students bid, scoped, won, developed and delivered the work and collected 100% of the revenue for each project. Many of the students are now enrolled in Fresno State, Fresno City or at West Hills to pursue degrees in computer science. The majority of students also continue working on freelance projects while pursuing an education.
This new cohort, which started this semester, features more students than ever before: 30 participants head to Fresno each week to gain coding experience through the partnership.
View pictures of the first cohort:
Short-Term Online Classes
West Hills College Coalinga is marking the Spring 2018 semester by offering a new series of online learning opportunities: short term classes focused on specific skills including Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, Audio and Game Design, and Video Production. Each of the individual classes is offered online and leads to an industry credential. Students who complete the courses are able to take a third party industry credential test for free, a $169 value. They also get free access to Lynda.com and no textbook is required in any of the courses.
Students who take the full series of courses will also be able to earn a Certificate from West Hills College Coalinga in Microsoft, digital media, game design or coding, depending on what courses they take. Additional certificates in data analytics, software development and programming are planned for Fall 2018.
Funded by the Title V grant, the classes are designed to give students an immediate leg up in the workplace and teach the skills needed to advance careers. Infinitely stackable, a student could earn one or several of the certificates all online.