Frequently Asked Questions

About the Online Learning Initiative

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The overarching goal of this initiative is for each UW university to adopt and disseminate current best practices in online teaching and student support so that quality online education scales across the entire University of Wisconsin System. The primary focus of this effort is on pedagogy and current best practices in online course design and instruction.

The Online Learning Initiative has four fundamental components:

  1. Professional Development for Faculty and Instructional Staff
  2. Professional Development for Student Support Staff
  3. Content Development for Online Training Materials
  4. Need-Based Access to Information Technology for Students

Each component of this initiative is centered on student success. By providing professional development for faculty and instructional staff on current best practices, this initiative will help instructors prepare high-quality online courses. Students will continue to receive the same world-class education available at UW System universities—now, in an online or hybrid method.

Student support staff will also be equipped with current professional development on providing student services in an online environment. In addition, this initiative provides the funding necessary for UW universities to offer need-based access to Information Technology resources. These components of the initiative serve students by making quality, online learning accessible and equitable across the University of Wisconsin System.

A key component of this initiative is providing faculty and instructional staff with the tools and skills to be effective online educators.

Professional development for faculty and instructional staff will be led at each UW System university by Provosts and Directors of Teaching and Learning Centers. Training is focused on adoption of current best practices in online instruction, retooling existing courses, creating new materials across multi-media platforms, delivering synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, and effectively supporting and advising student learning in online environments.

UW Extended Campus delivered four professional development courses for faculty and student support staff, focused on current best practices in online learning.  The Journey to Online courses cover online course planning, development, and instruction.  The Keep Coaching course covers four main pillars of student coaching. University of Wisconsin System universities may freely use the resources delivered through these courses.

Yes! In collaboration with UW Extended Campus and UW Centers for Teaching and Learning, a certificate program is currently being developed so any University of Wisconsin System faculty or student support staff member can become certified in online instruction and student coaching.  The certificate program is based on the courses developed by UW Extended Campus.

The Online Learning Initiative is funded by a $2 million gift from a confidential donor, prompted by the rapid transition to remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In connection with the fourth component of this initiative, funds are being made available to help students who need technology resources. Led at each UW System university by Provosts and Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs), campus-level teams will identify students in need of access to information technology hardware and software. It is anticipated that students are likely to require financial grants and/or loans of computer hardware and software, including but not limited to: laptops, tablets, cell phones, WIFI networks and cellular data hotspots. The Online Learning Initiative provides funds to meet some of those needs.