The University of Missouri System is investing in a bold growth strategy to provide Missourians and learners everywhere access to online 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.
- 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 Missouri Online 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 of, administration of and recruitment for 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 joined Missouri Online. 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
Missouri Online 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.