SHREWSBURY, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Based on reports provided by the five University of Massachusetts campuses, UMassOnline announced today that for fiscal year 2011, the University’s online course and program offerings saw a 16% increase in revenue, from $56.2 million to $65.2 million, and a 12% increase in enrollments from 45,772 to 51,097 year over year. This marks the 10th consecutive year in which UMassOnline, founded in 2001, has reported on behalf of the University double digit growth in both enrollments and revenues from online and blended programs developed and offered by the University’s five campuses. UMassOnline, which is the online learning consortium for the University of Massachusetts, provides technology support and marketing in support of these offerings.
According to UMassOnline Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ken Udas, highlights for the year included at least five initiatives from across the campuses as well as within UMassOnline as it seeks to keep pace on behalf of the University’s campuses with trends, technology, and marketing in the rapidly evolving world of online higher education. In overview, he said, outstanding progress was made in new programs from the campuses, new partnerships, new technology directions, new forms of institutionalized outreach and dialogue, and expanded marketing.
“During FY11,” Dr. Udas said, “we saw many new and very significant online program developments by the campuses, further enlarging and enriching the University’s position as a leading provider of distance education opportunities. Further, in conjunction with the Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses we secured a major new partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) Academy for the provision of online education Master's degrees to the NEA’s 3.2 million members. In technology, we commenced a pan-campus review to evaluate and ultimately source a next generation Learning Management System by 2013 for the advanced development and delivery of online offerings from the campuses.”
“Also achieved was the creation of an ongoing Speaker Series that provides a live forum for guest lecturers with contemporary knowledge and views about online learning systems, methods, technologies, trends, and developments. And to cap what has obviously been a busy and important year, we developed and deployed UMassOnline’s new ‘One World Class’ marketing and branding campaign to reflect the changes in the past several years in the size, scope, diversity, reach and global profile of UMass programs being offered online and the learners that are turning to the University’s offerings.”
Growing Portfolio of Online Courses and Programs from UMass Campuses
In all, for FY11, UMass campuses launched 22 new online programs. Four new programs from UMass Amherst included International Heritage Studies; Continuing Education for Financial Professionals, Attorneys, Accountants and Regulators; Online Professional Series in Wind Energy and Analysis; and, Certificate in Sustainable Food and Farming. From UMass Boston came seven new offerings. These are Certificate in Gerontological Social Policy; Graduate Certificate in Technology, Learning and Leadership; Global Post-Disaster Studies Reconstruction with Vulnerable Populations certificate; Clinical Nurse Specialist Post Master’s certificate; Global Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Management certificate; Online Graduate Certificate in Women’s Leadership in a Global Perspective; and, Science in a Changing World certificate.
Eight new programs were launched during the year by UMass Dartmouth. These included the Graduate Certificate in Educational Policy, Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership, Graduate Certificate in Business Foundations, Graduate Certificate in International Business, Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Development, Medical Transcription Training, Bachelor of Liberal Arts, online degree completion program and the Master of Public Policy. UMass Lowell, which currently offers the most online programs among the campuses, also launched three new programs in FY11, Online Graduate Certificate program in Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Health and Disease, Second Bachelor's degree in Information Technology, and a Graduate Certificate program in Victim Studies. At the end of FY10, UMass Lowell launched two previously unreported online programs in Network Security as well as Systems Models and Management.
National Education Association (NEA) Academy Partnership
At the start of FY11 in July, UMassOnline signed an agreement with the NEA Academy, becoming one of only three online learning providers nationally to provide online education Master's degrees to members of the National Education Association. The NEA is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers. The National Education Association began its search for preferred online learning partners by reviewing 120 institutions nationwide.
In all, 15 UMass online Master’s degrees are being offered through this first of its kind partnership. This educational partnership adds to the Academy’s offerings of professional learning opportunities available to the association’s members, further underscoring the University of Massachusetts’ mission to provide access to a quality and affordable education. Based on the Association’s total membership, the NEA estimates approximately 500,000 are candidates for the portfolio of online M.Ed. programs offered by UMass and the two other partner institutions.
Learning Platform Review
UMassOnline in FY11 commenced a Learning Platform Review (LPR) in anticipation that the University’s current Learning Management System (LMS) will no longer be available as of January, 2013. This is effectively requiring a mandatory migration to another LMS for the five UMass campuses as well as for 10 hosted public and private partner institutions in Massachusetts that use UMass technology in the development and delivery of their online programs. In support of the LPR, UMassOnline developed and is now implementing a review process aimed at campus-wide participation and inclusion so all stakeholders can embrace this change as an opportunity to enhance current teaching and learning practices, extend academic programs and incorporate new technologies into their teaching practice.
Having broad representation from throughout the sector is desired for this process to expand participation to include a wide variety of organizations specializing in academic technologies generally and online learning specifically such as LMS vendors and service providers, professional organizations, and peers including other colleges, universities, and systems.
Considering the broad constituency and geographic diversity of the UMassOnline user community, for this LPR initiative, UMassOnline has also established an open, public, and collaborative online forum to provide continuous access and development contributions. Specific to the efforts to identify a new LMS, UMassOnline is following the lead of many other colleges, universities and systems that have engaged publicly in their requirements gathering, evaluation and decision-making processes — capturing the collective insights from the broad and diverse community of users.
The Observatory on Policy and Practice in Online Learning
During the year, UMassOnline launched an initiative called The Observatory on Policy and Practice in Online Learning which, through multiple methods, including the new Speaker Series, is serving as a vehicle to help inform and spark dialogue among peers in higher education. The primary mission of the initiative is to foster for the participants in the higher education community an opportunity for topics to be identified, investigated, and presented by participants. Although started at UMass, the program is open to sector-wide participation and open to a number of methods for informing and improving practice through developing and sharing better understandings of trends and policies.
‘One World Class’ Marketing Campaign Positions Global Scope of UMassOnline Offerings
Also in July, 2010, UMassOnline launched a new marketing campaign, ‘One World Class,’ in recognition of the major academic and programming contributions from the University of Massachusetts campuses, and the major efforts of UMass faculty members and staff across all the campuses who collectively produced one of the largest, most reputable, and most highly-regarded portfolios of online learning opportunities available in the distance education market. And, for students taking UMass courses online, the new campaign also features UMass online learners who today represent diversity and variety much expanded from what it was when UMassOnline was formed in 2001. UMassOnline marketing support on behalf of the campuses now draws prospective student inquiries from individuals in 175 countries.
Drivers of the new marketing and branding included the significantly expanded global interest in online higher education; a significantly expanded target market that today not only includes adult learners but traditional students who take online courses as well to augment and accelerate their degree programs; and, a global story to tell of the evolving common higher educational interests and goals among an increasingly diverse target market. But while many think of UMassOnline as primarily weaving together diverse populations of students, it also weaves together important and diverse groups internally who, through technology, collaboration and participation, are woven together in support of the advancement of online education.
UMassOnline, the online learning consortium of the University of Massachusetts, provides marketing and technology support for UMass’ online offerings that enable students, professionals, and lifelong learners to take courses anywhere, anytime. With 116 undergraduate and graduate degree, certificate and professional development programs and more than 1,500 courses available from UMass, UMassOnline’s marketing and technology services support one of the largest accredited online programs available. Programs span the disciplines for which the University is best known: liberal arts, education, management, nursing, public health, information technology, and other disciplines. For more about UMassOnline, go to www.umassonline.net or visit our blog at www.umassonlineblog.com.