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Aug. 23, 2012 Volume 34, No. 1

University of Missouri invests $2.5 million to develop e-learning courses


Revenue from online course enrollment to finance e-learning growth

The number of students enrolled in MU online courses has more than doubled since 2005. 

About 9,000 students enrolled in online courses last year, a 22 percent increase from 2010. Currently for the fall semester, 3,659 students are enrolled in one or more online courses, according to a news release.

In response to the demand, the University of Missouri is investing $2.5 million into online degree programs, said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies and interim vice provost for e-learning.

“The intent is to expand the number of degrees that are available to students,” Spain said. “We will do this only if we are sure we can maintain our academic outcomes. We are not going to sacrifice student learning and the quality of instruction.”

New online programs will be developed, approved and taught by MU faculty, who will maintain authority over the curriculum. “There are faculty who get great satisfaction from this type of creative process,” said Leona Rubin, associate professor of biomedical sciences and former chair of Faculty Council. “They should be encouraged and, importantly, rewarded for their innovations.

“Technology is forcing us to think differently about how we teach and how students learn,” Rubin continued. “These ideas are not new to education and educators. But now, because of the technology, all faculty and administrators are thinking of new and creative delivery methods.”

Revenue from online enrollment is used to support the program’s growth. Colleges, schools and departments that are developing online courses will apply for funding, Spain said. The maximum amount awarded to an online program is $250,000. The first awards will be announced in February 2013.

Currently, MU offers five undergraduate degree-completion programs online and 61 graduate degree and certificate programs online or in hybrid format. Some departments offer additional online focus areas within their degree offerings to provide students with specialized course options. 

Through this new growth initiative, MU hopes to add 10 to 15 online degree programs by 2014, Spain said.

“The ability to place education in the hands of anyone who wants it, no matter where they live, is consistent with MU’s land-grant mission of making higher education accessible and affordable,” Spain said. 

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