By Carl Weckerle and Ronda Edwards, current and former Executive Directors of Michigan
In the spring of 1980, representatives from fifteen community colleges gathered in Lansing to
discuss ways of using instructional television to make their institutions’ services more available
to greater numbers of students. The outcome of these meetings was the recommendation that
a consortium of community colleges be established to make the selection, acquisition and
utilization of high quality telecourses as a cost-effective process to expand access. In
December 1980 the Educational Teleconsortium of Michigan (ETOM) was formed and in
November 1982 ETOM became a legal incorporated entity.
In the early years, ETOM’s main focus was increasing awareness of telecourses benefits for
students and the consortium’s benefits for member institutions. Over the next decade, ETOM
hosted telecourse viewing sessions and professional development workshops for faculty. The
consortium also engaged in statewide buys of telecourses and teleconferences that garnered
member institutions tens of thousands of dollars in savings each semester. In the late 1990’s
the Executive Council for ETOM saw the movement toward web-based instruction and began to
focus more efforts in the area of online instruction.
Similar to ETOM, Michigan Colleges Online (MCO) has many of the same members. Each of
the 28 community colleges works with the MCO “to connect the teaching and student support
capacity of Michigan community colleges so learners can access affordable, high-quality
learning experiences whenever and wherever desired.” The MCO, formerly the Michigan
Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative (MCCVLC), has been working with colleges’
distance learning and educational technology efforts for over 20 years.
Where ETOM is able to offer professional development and events in collaboration with its
members, the MCO is able to dive into the initiatives to help move the needle in a number of
important areas.Some of these initiatives include …
Some of the initiatives include …
- Online Course Development – MCO Online Course Rubric is designed to provide guidance for member institutions as they design and assess their online courses. The rubric is intended to be used to support faculty in their development of online courses and is currently used in ETOM’s Online Teaching Certification Course.
- Open Education Resources (OER) – the MCO OER initiative provides opportunities for member colleges to engage in practices that promote the usage of OER on their campuses. Through this initiative, colleges are able to track and share the savings their students have experienced as a result of using OER over commercially licensed textbooks.
- Digital Accessibility – through a community of practice around digital accessibility, the MCO has enabled colleges to share what they are doing to increase access to education at their institutions.
Each of these areas are referenced within ETOM’s Online Teaching Certification Course (OTCC) and supports the work of ETOM and its member institutions.
Since the founding of ETOM and MCO, their goals and the supporting efforts have had a
symbiotic relationship where each organization strengthens and reinforces the work of the other.