UMassOnline Awarded National Grant to Expand Access through Blended Programs

UMassOnline Awarded National Grant to Expand Access through Blended Programs

SHREWSBURY, MA - January 17, 2007 - The Sloan Foundation, a national association that promotes online learning standards, has awarded UMassOnline a $650,000 grant to help expand access to the University of Massachusetts. The grant will help UMassOnline to develop, deliver, and market a new suite of online, blended programs and services.

UMassOnline, which has 22,000 enrollments and offers 67 online degree and certificate programs, has grown dramatically since it was launched five years ago. These programs come from the five campuses in the system - Amherst, Dartmouth, Boston, Lowell and the Medical School in Worcester.

"UMassOnline has established itself as a national leader in asynchronous online learning. Many of our students come from all over the world" said David Gray, UMassOnline CEO. "Yet we know there are many prospective students and companies in our own backyard who recognize the value of a UMass education, and consider access to campus research facilities and labs, for example, an added value. This grant will give us the opportunity to explore new elearning models and enable us to extend these resources locally to more prospective students and business partners."

"Increased interest in wholly online education is undeniable. At the same time, we're seeing an increase in students who also want a connection to a physical campus and all the attributes associated with that. The Sloan grant provides an unprecedented opportunity to identify new programs and services that benefit from some mix of on campus and online delivery," said Jacquie Moloney, Dean of Continuing Studies, UMass Lowell, and principal investigator for the research grant.

UMass Lowell is partnering with UMassOnline to implement the grant in cooperation with all five campuses. Each campus will develop or expand two programs, initially starting with the following:

  • UMass Amherst - Bachelor of Arts in individual concentrations in Health and Human Services offered through University Without Walls
  • UMass Boston - Bachelor of Science for Registered Nurses
  • UMass Dartmouth - Humanities and Social Sciences Degree Completion Program
  • UMass Lowell - Health Management & Policy Master's Program
  • UMass Worcester Graduate School of Nursing - Post Master's Certificate for Nurse Educators Program

The Sloan Foundation is hoping that UMass will help to set some new directions in elearning. "While we remain excited about the continued growth of asynchronous online education, we are seeking novel and interesting ways of reaching new populations who will benefit from programs that address local or regional needs" states A. Frank Mayadas, a Grants Director for the Sloan Foundation and President of the Sloan-Consortium, of which UMassOnline is an active member. "UMass with its 5 regional campuses and solid experience delivering online education, is uniquely qualified to model a new approach to elearning that better serves local constituencies," concluded Mayadas.

UMassOnline could become the national model for local, blended initiatives, said Gray. To kick off the grant, UMass will host a system-wide symposium at the Shrewsbury facility on January 19 th from 9:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. entitled, "A Local Approach to the Development and Delivery of Online and Blended Programs."

For more about UMassOnline, go to www.umassonline.net or call 781-864-9005

Date: 01/17/07

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