Community colleges are a vital part of the larger higher education community in the United States and increasingly around the world. The more than 1,100 U.S. community colleges—not to mention the hundreds of like institutions internationally—have evolved into dynamic, comprehensive institutions that are often known for their resourcefulness in using any available tool or technique to improve and expand learning , , , . From the early days of correspondence courses to the “colleges without walls” movement of the 1970s and 1980s, community college educators have demonstrated a commitment to extending the reach of education in their continuing efforts to make a difference for students and communities.
In today’s higher education world, asynchronous learning is the power tool. Moreover, the associated techniques for using asynchronous learning to support in-class and online instruction are bringing learning to life in new and exciting ways. This edition of the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks examines the role of these anytime, anyplace tools with a special focus on the characteristics of the community college movement—particularly the access, affordability, and outreach elements. Readers are treated to explorations of demographic trends, technological tools, and change-management strategies from well known researchers and practitioners. The conversation often ranges beyond community college, and that is with purpose. Community colleges are part of the broader family of education as well as a piece of the social and political fabric of the communities that they serve and thus deserve to be explored in this more complete context.