Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Online learning organizations create a national e-learning alliance

Funded on a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), a task force comprised of representatives of leading national organizations in online and e-learning in higher education, has issued a report on the future of online learning in higher education. The Task Force includes representatives from the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC), the Association of Continuing Higher Education (ACHE), EDUCAUSE, the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C), UPCEA and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET).

The Summit on the Future of Online Learning held in Chicago in September 2011 addressed many of the issues facing online learning in higher education today. An outcome of the Summit was a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to convene an Inter-Organizational Task Force on Online Learning.

“Each of these organizations is deeply engaged in the development, delivery and support of high quality online education,” said Robert Hansen, CEO of UPCEA. “This report lays the foundation for working together with the goal of advancing the interests of the students and institutions we serve through quality online learning.”

The report, issued October 3, 2012, has six main objectives: 

1. Create the capacity to better inform online learning policy-making and regulation by establishing a formal alliance of organizations dedicated to advancing online education

2. Inform public policymakers and higher education leaders of the fundamental importance of online learning in serving the new “traditional” student: the adult learner

3. Make the connection between online learning, the economy, workforce development, and access, and communicate that connection to policymakers and higher education leaders

4. Give presidents and provosts the information and tools they need to make online education a key strategic asset for financial sustainability and mission fulfillment

5. Engage policymakers and other key stakeholders in conversations about new opportunities for innovation afforded by e-learning

6. Use the overwhelming body of research demonstrating the quality of online learning to dispel the lingering skepticism of policymakers and the public at-large

“This is a unique initiative among the leading national associations in online and e-learning in higher education,” said Ray Schroeder, Chair of the Task Force and Associate Vice Chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield. “In the rapidly evolving online environment, it is important that we draw upon the knowledge and experience of those who represent the colleges and universities who have demonstrated their commitment to quality and innovation in this field.”

For more information, contact Schroeder at 217/206-7531 or rschr1@uis.edu. Please visit www.upcea.edu to view the full report.

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Located in Washington, D.C., UPCEA serves more than 370 institutions of higher education with a focus on professional, continuing, and online learning. The Association provides its members with educational publications, programs, conferences, and services for the advancement of lifelong learning. UPCEA promotes awareness of the needs of adult learners and recognizes best practices in the field.

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