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University of Missouri System links four-campus online learning efforts through launch of single portal

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John Fougere

Chief Communications Officer

University Relations

Feb 02, 2012

Posted February 2, 2012

The University of Missouri System has created and will soon be launching a single entry point for students to gain access to courses delivered online at any UM campus. The new e-portal, unveiled today during the board of curators meeting in Kansas City, allows new and existing students to search for online courses and programs at any campus and apply, register and gain access to all their courses and support services from one location.

“We know the demand for online course delivery is increasing, and the four campuses of the University of Missouri System are meeting that challenge,” said University of Missouri System Senior Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Steve Graham. “By having a single portal, new and current students can see the array of online course offerings from any one of our four campuses and then have the tools at their fingertips to enroll in those classes if they choose.”

The branding of the portal, including the colors and logos, will vary by campus depending on how a current or prospective student enters the site. The portal also provides the flexibility for each campus to address its unique elearning efforts while still using the same back-end software. The portal will be used by students who register for summer and fall 2012 online courses beginning in March.

“With a system as large as ours and four campuses that each have their own unique identities and strong brands, creating a unified entry point that provides students the breadth of online options available at all campuses is an important step in meeting the needs of online learners,” said UM Director of  Distance Education and e-Learning Zac March. “We think students will benefit tremendously from the ease and convenience of this portal.”

March said the university’s elearning initiative was necessitated by students’ expectations as they increasingly turn to online offerings to supplement their on-campus classes to meet their educational needs. More than 12,000 UM students are taking at least one fully online class—an increase of 13 percent in just the past year. In addition, there has been a 72 percent increase in the number of UM students taking online courses only, and a nearly 200 percent increase in the number of courses that offer some online component.

The UM campuses have responded to this national growth trend in online learning and have been supported in part by the UM System, March said. The UM System has already provided resources to the campuses, which has resulted in the development of 120 new online courses that will be completed by the end of the 2012 calendar year. This includes eight online degree programs, seven online certificate programs and seven online course clusters, and involves 110 faculty members. The system will assist the campuses in developing fully online programs during the next two years.

“As a long-time faculty member, I have seen and come to appreciate the shift from traditional lecture-type teaching and learning to learning that is facilitated in some way by online learning tools,” said Wayne Vaught, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Philosophy, Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Thanks in part to the additional support of the UM System, we are now better meeting the needs of today’s students through the growth in online courses available and the development of this single portal. I also firmly believe that we are helping to increase the quality of the education we provide by continuing to expand the world of online learning tools and options available to help students learn through techniques that are best suited to them. As the state’s largest public university with a mission to provide top-notch education, I can’t think of a better way to spend our resources.”

For a preview of the portal, visit http://online.umsystem.edu/portal.