eLearning at the University of Minnesota
Facts about eLearning
For nearly 100 years, the University has used new technologies to improve learning outcomes and provide better access to education. Milestones include:
- From 1915 through 1999, Audio Visual Library Services (later University Film and Video) provided educational films and videos to classrooms throughout the United States.
- In 1946, University station KUOM aired learning programs for children homebound by the polio epidemic.
- From 1987 through 2003, the University aired "Health Talk & YOU," a call-in TV show staffed by University medical experts and students. Today, the Academic Health Center publishes the Health Talk blog.
- In 1996, the first online courses were offered from the Twin Cities and Crookston campuses.
- In fall 2006, the Moodle course management system was launched, where faculty can provide students with course materials, library resources, and a place to submit their assignments.
- In fall 2007, active learning classrooms were piloted on campus. In summer 2010, the Science Teaching and Student Services building opened with another 10, more than any other institution in the country.
- In fall 2010, the College of Education and Human Development launched a mobile learning pilot initiative.
- In the 2011-2012 academic year, 1,439 online course sections were offered and 18,719 students enrolled, some in more than one. This led to a 9% increase in total enrollments (31,175) over the previous academic year. The University offers over 35 online and blended degree and certificate programs ranging from public health and nursing to computer science and manufacturing management (see Digital Campus for more information).
What is eLearning?
The University of Minnesota defines eLearning simply as the use of technology to support teaching and learning. It is not a niche activity, but rather:
- Encompasses the full lifecycle of students—undergraduate, graduate and professional, and continuing education.
- Serves students whether they are resident on one of our campuses or learning at a distance.
- Comprises a spectrum of approaches, from technology-enhanced classrooms and instruction to online courses and learning platforms.
How does eLearning fit into the University’s mission?
At the University of Minnesota, eLearning is critical to our goal of improving the quality and availability of educational programs. Our eLearning strategy includes:
- Improving the undergraduate teaching and learning experience by targeting selected programs and courses for enhancement or redesign.
- Supporting increased graduation and retention rates by giving undergraduates additional scheduling flexibility through redesign of high demand classes into an online format.
- Providing graduate and professional students with alternative access to select post-baccalaureate programs by offering them in an online or blended format.
- Improving access to University of Minnesota continuing education and noncredit offerings for professionals and lifelong learners.
- Exploring the potential of emergent technologies by offering a limited number of massively open online courses (MOOCs) to a national and international audience.
What steps has the Provost taken to support these strategies?
- September 2012: Professor Chris Cramer appointed as faculty liaison for eLearning.
- October 2012: Request for Proposals issued, seeking applications from undergraduate degree-granting programs to support transformational enhancement of their curricula and pedagogy through the leverage of existing or emerging digital technologies.
- December 2012: Office of eLearning created, staffed by those from the former Vice Provost's Office of Distributed Education and Instructional Technology. Led by Dr. Bob Rubinyi, the Office of eLearning is charged with implementing a highly coordinated support model, closely integrating the services of the University Libraries, Office of Information Technology, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and academic technology support units within the various colleges and schools. The office will work on some initiatives connected with faculty affairs and with graduate and professional education, but because many of the University's eLearning efforts will be focused on undergraduate education, the office has been moved under the umbrella of Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster.
- December 2012-February 2013 – MOOC project launched to identify a handful of courses that could be developed into MOOC format.
- February 18, 2013 – Faculty Committee on Academic Technology launched to provide advice and counsel on issues related to learning technologies.
- February 20, 2013 – Partnership with Coursera announced (see news release or frequently asked questions).
- April 2013 – Enhancement of Academic Programs Using Digital Technology grants announced (see complete list of awards).