About WICHE OCE
The Online Course Exchange (OCE) is a robust administrative tool designed to support collaboration among institutions offering online courses. As members of a consortium using OCE, institutions expand their students’ access to high quality online courses and programs taught by other institutions participating in the consortium.
The OCE infrastructure is designed to be flexible so that it can support a wide range of consortia goals and business models—from those exchanging course enrollments across two- and four-year institutions statewide to discipline-specific exchanges across institutions in multiple states. For each consortium client, OCE provides a range of services. These include a designated web-based course catalog and student data exchange, training on the use of the ICE platform, access to a series of reports, financial transaction services, and more.
OCE is based at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, located in Boulder, Colorado.
WICHE OCE provides consortia with the robust administrative tools to enable students, through their home institutions, to seamlessly access high quality online courses and programs offered by other four-year and two-year member institutions. The collaborative model fosters faculty engagement, resource sharing, innovation, and student completion.
WICHE OCE, in its relationship to its consortia clients and their member institutions, adheres to the following guiding principles:
- Promote collaboration among faculties, administrators, and students to advance the common goals of higher education and promote access to high-quality academic offerings.
- Preserve the autonomy, integrity, and quality of each consortium and its member institutions.
- Encourage and support the sharing of ideas, techniques, methods, courses, and programs for the benefit of enrolled students.
- Comply with standards and best practices of learning organizations for efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.
Origin of OCE
In 2004, WICHE received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education/Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to design and develop an infrastructure to support a pilot project exchanging enrollments in online courses among institutions in four western states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota. The exchange, initially called the WICHE Northwest Educational Outreach Network (NEON), focused on three niche programs: doctoral nursing education, library media, and supply chain management. Also that year, WICHE partnered with the Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) to make additional online doctoral nursing courses available through the development of the Nursing Education Xchange (NEXus) with a grant provided by FIPSE to WIN. NEXus, founded as a partnership among select Western universities offering doctoral nursing programs (PHD and DNP), with subsequent funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration brought additional institutions into the course sharing consortium. Additional developmental funding for WICHE OCE was later provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation with a grant in 2009.
By balancing the supply of courses and student demand in niche programs offered online across multiple institutions and states, these early pioneers hoped to ensure their sustainability. They saw this new technology and shared resources as a way to achieve efficiency in the use of limited resources while offering students a higher quality learning experience than might be possible by a single institution. They took the traditional student exchange models that had served students so well on campuses for decades into the new era of anytime, anywhere online learning..
To sustain and ultimately expand the exchange infrastructure developed in the FIPSE and Sloan-funded project, WICHE founded OCE and offered it through a fee-for-service model to institutions and consortia. NEXus, administered by the Western Institute of Nursing, has been powered by WICHE OCE since 2006.