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Grant improves virtual learning opportunities at UWRF

December 14, 2006

UWRF and Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) students will soon be able to take online courses.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded a $2.5 million grant Sept. 29 to make virtual learning possible through the Title III program, “Stronger Together: An Educational Partnership for the Changing Economy.”

“UWRF and CVTC proposed the program because both institutions face the same problem: growing populations and needs for our programs and limited resources to deliver them,” said Director of Grants and Research Bill Campbell, who wrote the proposal with Director of Outreach Katrina Larsen and CVTC Grants Director Jane Tafel. “By expanding our capabilities to deliver courses in non-traditional ways, we can deliver instruction to populations that we cannot now serve.”

Following the U.S. Department of Education’s outline, Campbell, Tafel and Larsen wrote a 70-page proposal.

“I’ve served as a reader for this Department of Education competition many times,” Campbell said. “I know what readers are looking for: a burning need, a well thought-out plan for addressing that need and commitment from the institutions to carry out that plan.”

The new courses will be beneficial to UWRF students.

“They will benefit primarily students who cannot now spend their days on campus when most classes are offered,” Campbell said. “This will benefit students who work full time, who are place-bound, who prefer intensive short bursts of instruction to semester-long courses, or who simply prefer the traditional three days per week hour-long course structure.”

Through the year 2011, UWRF and CVTC will train faculty in delivering courses via Web-based education, instructional TV and compact learning; develop and offer courses using the same methods; achieve student retention for alternative delivery programs equal to the retention on campus by providing online and evening access to services, advising and counseling; and explore new bachelor’s degree programs providing ease of credit transfer.
Because the grant was awarded so recently, there are still a few unknown factors.

“I suspect that it’s far too early to say what courses will be offered and when the courses begin,” Campbell said. “We’ve just started year one of a five-year project.”

Title III awards funds for developing academic programs to meet regional workforce needs and is the third grant provided to UWRF in the past 15 years.

The first was awarded in 1991 and funded the pre-major advising program, degree audit system and the first campus-wide efforts for assessment of academic programs. In 1999, UWRF was awarded another Title III grant, which funded 10 new Outreach programs.

September’s grant will bring in $500,000 per year for five years, but approximately half of those funds will go to the University’s partner, CVTC.
“This Title III grant is among the largest we’ve ever received,” Campbell said.

The University submits about 80 grant proposals per year.

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