Capitol Alert

AM Alert: How can California improve online college education?

Elisa Allechant, a junior at Sacramento State University, studies in a computer lab at school for an online media aesthetics class.
Elisa Allechant, a junior at Sacramento State University, studies in a computer lab at school for an online media aesthetics class. The Sacramento Bee file

The California Community Colleges system is at the forefront of online education in the state, with about 1 million students already enrolled in thousands of web-based courses.

But educators face a paradox with these burgeoning digital platforms: While students who take at least one online class are more likely to finish their degrees, outcomes for those courses are also significantly worse than traditional classrooms.

So what can community colleges do to make online education more successful – especially as Gov. Jerry Brown continues to pursue these programs in California? The system began this week by unveiling an updated web portal that emphasizes transfer pathways to the California State University system.

Public Policy Institute of California researcher Hans Johnson has other ideas about boosting course quality and completion, tied to a new report, that he will discuss during a noon briefing the Capitol Event Center on 11th Street.

DRINK IT UP: As California searches for solutions to manage its historic drought, perhaps a glimpse overseas to the deserts of Israel could provide some answers. The Jewish Federation of Sacramento hosts a symposium on Israeli water policy and technology, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Sacramento City Council Chambers. It will feature remarks from former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael.

A BOY NAMED SUE: Do the government and trial lawyers make for an unholy alliance? So suggests the Civil Justice Association of California, an advocate for more business-friendly legal policies, which is hosting a two-day conference on the California court system in Beverly Hills. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez are keynote speakers today, and a handful of Los Angeles-area Assembly members are scheduled for a legislator panel tomorrow.

TRACK THE LEGISLATURE: What’s influencing lawmakers’ actions? A new data feature in our legislative directory at sacbee.com lets you explore which interests are the biggest givers to each member. You’ll also find key political and census information about every district, including unemployment and poverty rates.

Alexei Koseff: (916) 321-5236, @akoseff

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