As online learning evolves, the UM System is dedicated to remaining a leader in academic innovation. No two learning experiences are the same and with eLearning, we have the opportunity to serve more students than ever before. With collaboration and advances in technology, all four UM System universities have the ability to optimize their eLearning capabilities and build upon them.
As part of its strategic plan, the UM System has made resources available for campuses to collaborate and expand eLearning in order to enhance educational experiences while also increasing efficiencies.
The Office of eLearning strives to increase enrollment in online classes and programs while enhancing student services, faculty development, the student experience, compliance services and with the ultimate goal of improving efficiencies and the quality of courses and programs.
The primary outcomes will be driven through:
- Improved and expanded support services for faculty, staff and students working with or taking any online class across the four Universities.
- A messaging strategy built on the collective power of all four University brands.
- Increased faculty development services, programming and support.
- Improved quality in course design, compliance services, and gained efficiencies to support engaged learning while scaling enrollment.
- Streamlined technology services in support of scale and active learning.
- Increased enrollment in online programs through investment in enrollment marketing, pre-matriculation support and student success coaching in order to increase retention.
- Enhanced student services and experience.
- All revenue and fee income received via online course enrollment stays with each University.
- Chief eLearning Officer Matthew Gunkel
- Senior Director Stephanie McClelland
- Faculty Fellow Heather Hunt
- Faculty Fellow Amber Reinhart
- Senior Director for Academic Technology Danna Wren
Matthew Gunkel Bio
Gunkel leads the systemwide effort to develop, design, build and operate an online and digital-learning office and administrative structure that will ensure a superior academic experience for students and help each University grow online enrollment.
Gunkel joined the UM System from Indiana University in June 2019, where he most recently served as the director of teaching and learning technology and led eLearning strategy, services, operations and investments for IU’s nine-campus system. During that time, he helped grow Indiana University’s reputation as a nationally recognized leader in online learning, with the university’s US News & World Report ranking for best online bachelor’s program climbing from 72 to 20 over four years. In his role, Gunkel streamlined tools to drive the cost of creating and delivering a new online course from $30,000 to less than $7,000 and spearheaded efforts that quadrupled the number of courses created annually from the program’s beginning in 2014. His work to negotiate contracts for solutions and services established ground-breaking partnerships with key players in educational technology, such as Examity, Canvas, Top Hat, Zoom and Google. Gunkel earned a master’s in information science from Indiana University and a bachelor’s in computer technology from Purdue University.
The University of Missouri System is investing in a bold eLearning growth strategy to provide Missourians and learners everywhere access to education from its four universities.
The steps taken to achieve these goals include:
MoExcels: The UM System Office of Academic Affairs responded to the Missouri Department of Higher Education’s MoExcels Request for Proposals opportunity to develop a model for addressing Missouri’s workforce needs through innovative online postsecondary education. This proposal set the conceptual framework for the UM System’s eLearning initiative.
Internal Assessment: UM System partnered with research and consultancy group EY Parthenon to develop a systemwide strategic plan for significant growth in online learning. This process involved collection of primary and secondary data, faculty interviews and a faculty survey, and an assessment of alignment with national best practices.
Their charge was to:
- Evaluate existing online and distance learning programs to identify strengths and weaknesses and compare key metrics to national best practices;
- Assess demand for online education within Missouri and the region (A survey was executed in November 2018.);
- Identify opportunities and assess viability for expanding distance and online learning;
- Evaluate technology platforms; and
- Develop an operating model, implementation and go-to-market plan.
Engagement: In November 2018, an eLearning executive committee and task force began meeting to provide a forum for the consultants to inform on their progress, assessment, and recommendations; and provided key stakeholders from across the four universities an opportunity to provide input, ask questions, and guide the process.
- The eLearning Task Force held its first meeting and Haven Ladd of EY Parthenon presented the company’s eLearning strategy to the Board of Curators. To review content:
Chief Online Learning Officer: In December 2018, the UM System began its search for a Chief Online Learning Officer. This position is designed to oversee the transformational change required to successfully offer high-quality online degrees.
Administrative reorganization: In October 2019, more than 100 professionals from the offices of Mizzou Online, MU Course and Design Technology (ET@MO), UMSL Center for Design and Teaching and UMSL Information Technology Services became part of the UM System Office of eLearning under the direction of Matthew Gunkel, UM System chief eLearning officer. This administrative change does not change the services provided to students and faculty at any campus. Employees involved in the transition remain at their home university and continue to deliver specialized services for the creation, administration and recruiting for the online programs and courses at their institutions as well as work on enhanced services for online programs chosen for significant enrollment scaling. In February 2020, employees from UMKC became part of the Office of eLearning. Opportunities for program scaling for offerings from Missouri S&T continue to be evaluated. These changes do not impact tuition revenue at the individual universities, as all tuition dollars will remain at the university offering the degree or certificate.
Branding and messaging: The Office of eLearning partnered with higher education branding and marketing firm Carnegie-Dartlet in December 2019 to evaluate a messaging strategy for the enrollment growth effort while capitalizing on the brand equity of each of the four universities. Their work includes primary and secondary discovery among students, faculty and staff and should conclude in summer 2020.