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Frequently Asked Questions
UMassOnline is ideal for working professionals, military personnel, stay-at-home parents, people with disabilities, human resources managers looking for new opportunities for employees, and, of course, UMass alumni. Any person with a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) may register for noncredit, undergraduate, or graduate courses. However, you must have a bachelor's degree to be admitted to a graduate degree program. Some courses may require prerequisite college-level work. You may enroll in courses before being formally admitted to a degree program. Enrollment does not imply acceptance into a degree program. Massachusetts residency is not a requirement.
The major difference is your location. You do not have to travel to the campus. You can participate in your course from your home, office, or while traveling. You do, however, have the same access to the excellence of UMass professors/instructors as do those physically on campus. Courses on UMassOnline include exercises, projects, and collaborative assignments. The rich learning environment features tutorials and courses with audio lectures, photo materials, discussions, chat rooms, readings, illustrations, and video.
"Anytime, anywhere" education means that you do not have to be at a specific location at a specific time or date. Online learning takes place, for the most part, where and when you choose. This could be early in the morning or late at night at home, during your lunch break at work, when the kids are finally sleeping, or when you are traveling. UMass courses are rigorous and require you and your classmates to complete work by set deadlines, but you get to choose the times and location that suit your schedule.
Tuition and fees vary according to the campus and type of course. Generally, noncredit and undergraduate courses range from $125-$1980 and graduate-level courses range from $1230-$2250. All students, regardless of residency, pay the same tuition. For more information about the tuition of a course, go to the course information page by clicking on the course name. For degree programs, contact the degree program administrator by selecting "Inquire Now" on the degree page and requesting information about tuition.
Although in most cases an online course mirrors its on-campus counterpart in terms of subject matter covered, homework, and research, studies have indicated that online students do spend more time on their coursework. This is due in part to students' enthusiasm for participating in class discussions.
No. If you've ever sent or received e-mail or surfed the Web, you have the basic skills needed to successfully participate in an online course.
They sure are. Courses at UMassOnline are taught by resident UMass faculty, adjunct professors, and experienced real-world professionals. The courses meet the same stringent academic requirements as traditional on-campus courses.
Instructors answer e-mail questions, participate in online discussions, and personally evaluate assignments. Instructors also update course content to insure that courses stay on the cutting edge. Instructors keep scheduled "office hours" each week. Interaction with the instructor is an important aspect of a quality online education.
You will be able to communicate with other students and with your instructor through e-mail. You will also be able to post questions and comments to your course's threaded discussions. This forum allows you to hold virtual conversations with other classmates and your instructor, without having to be online at the same time.
Each campus has its own fee structure, and fees vary by program depending on whether the course offered is noncredit or for credit and the level of that credit - undergraduate or graduate. Fees for each course are listed with the course description. Residency (in state or out of state) does not affect the fee structure for students enrolling in courses and degree programs offered through UMassOnline.
Credit earned by successfully completing UMass courses from one campus can, in most cases, be transferred to other campuses, colleges, and universities. However, course credits are not automatically transferable from one campus to another. The transferability of the course is at the discretion of the accepting campus or school. It is your responsibility to confirm whether your campus or school will accept the transferred credits.
You may take courses simultaneously at any of the UMass campuses. You may, however, encounter different policies, procedures, academic calendars, and fees.
UMassOnline brings together all the online academic resources of the campuses in the University of Massachusetts system, but doesn't grant degrees. Degrees are awarded from the campus at which you were admitted to a degree program.
Each campus is unique and has its own strengths. Combined, the campuses in the University system offer students more benefits and access to academic resources than any one university could offer.
Blended learning dates back to when technology started to become part of the means to educate students or train employees. It is a teaching/learning method that is embraced in both educational institutions and corporate training providers.
Blended learning previously was simply defined as a method of instruction that combined technology with the traditional brick and mortar classroom setting thereby creating a new learning format. It was developed as a way to maximize the time spent in the classroom and minimize the time spent getting to class. As technology evolved, so have the core elements of blended learning. Now the blend can combine the face-to-face class with email, text messaging, podcasting, vidcasting, blogs, web conferencing tools and other tools used to connect learners to each other and to the instructor. It can mean that all class assignment (individual or group) are done online while the hands on learning is done in the classroom on-campus or on site in the lab. The definition has become quite personal according to the instructor creating the blend and the student who chooses it.
A recent study released by Eduventures indicates that online students enroll with institutions that are closest to them geographically. This trend reveals a seemingly natural desire for students to affiliate with a bricks and mortar campus which is an ideal opportunity to offer a blended learning solution to satisfy this desire.
The most commonly cited benefit of blended learning is saving time:
- Blended learning reduces the amount of time a student is required to attend on-campus classes
- Reduces time away from their job where typically employees would need to take time off from work to meet the requirements for on-campus learning
Other learner benefits include:
- It reduces commuting costs associated with getting to campus (e.g., gas, parking, tolls)
- It enables learning to happen beyond the classroom and in the work setting (e.g., health management taught on-site at a local hospital)
- It enables learners to learn on the campus closest to their work or home adding to the convenience and flexibility
- It puts the learner in control, providing more choices for the student to select the learning method to match their unique learning style helping them succeed in reaching their educational goals
Instructor and institutional benefits include:
- For educators, it reduces the need for the physical classroom enabling institutions to free up this space for other uses (e.g., more classes)
- For instructors, they reap similar benefits as students in that their reduce the time they spend commuting to the lecture halls as well as have limitless reach and access to their students for continued interaction
- In addition, faculty are also able to open up class related conversations beyond their own class and share out worldwide for added insights and perspectives
January 2007, the Sloan Foundation, a national association that promotes online learning standards, awarded UMassOnline a $650,000 grant and more recently awarded a second round of funding to help expand access to the University of Massachusetts. The grant helped UMassOnline to develop, deliver, and market a new suite of online, blended programs and services.
The Sloan Foundation selected UMass for this grant as it believes that the University of Massachusetts will set the new directions, best-practices and examples of blended learning within the larger distance learning marketplace.
UMassOnline refers to this method of learning and teaching as "blended" and define this as a combination of classroom and technology to deliver (or take part in) classes.
The purpose of the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) is to help learning organizations continually improve quality, scale, and breadth of their online programs according to their own distinctive missions, so that education will become a part of everyday life, accessible and affordable for anyone, anywhere, at any time, in a wide variety of disciplines. Created with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Sloan-C encourages the collaborative sharing of knowledge and effective practices to improve online education in learning effectiveness, access, affordability for learners and providers, and student and faculty satisfaction.
Sloan-C generates ideas to improve products, services and standards for the online learning industry, and assists members in collaborative initiatives. Members include (1) private and public universities and colleges, community colleges and other accredited course and degree providers, and (2) organizations and suppliers of services, equipments, and tools that practice the Sloan-C quality principles.
UMass Lowell is partnering with UMassOnline to implement the grant in with all five campuses. Each campus will develop or expand two programs, initially starting with the following:
- UMass Amherst- Doctor of Nursing Practice, BA in Health & Human Services, University without Walls
- UMass Boston- Expansion of the RN to BS for Registered Nurses
- UMass Dartmouth- B.A. in Liberal Arts Degree Completion Program
- UMass Lowell-Master's Degree and Graduate Certificate in Health Management and Policy
- UMass Worcester-Nurse Educator Post-Master's Certificate Program
The Sloan Grant will support 5 or more programs in FY08
Yes, and members from the campuses helped developed these standards or guidelines in conjunction with the Sloan Consortium. According to a recently published paper in the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN), "Characteristics of Successful Local Blended Programs in the Context of The Sloan-C Pillars," there are common characteristics that should be adhered to for developing successful local blended programs based which are largely based on the Sloan-C Pillars (educational guidelines developed as a framework for online programs).
- Localness Supports Outreach Mission and Facilitates Cost Effective Solutions
- Access Emphasizes the Best of Both Worlds
- Student Satisfaction Enhanced through Local Experiences
- Faculty Satisfaction Enhanced through Rewards and Training for Local Initiatives
- Learning Effectiveness Features Optimal Blend of F2F and Online Learning to Build Learning Community
- Sloan-C's Blended Learning Research Perspectives website: Sloan-C's Blended Learning Research Perspectives website
- Sloan Consortiums Report Blending In The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States: http://sloan-c.org/publications/survey/blended06.asp .
- USDLA: An Instructional Media Selection Guide For Distance Learning- Implications For Blended Learning
- Wikipedia on Blended Learning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning .
- Bersin & Associates Blended Learning Handbook: http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/67/07879729/0787972967.pdf.
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