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Office of Open Learning issues call for 2014 online and blended learning grant applications

The Office of Open Learning has issued a call for applications for Open and Online Learning Strategic Development Grants, with this year’s theme “Blending the Learning Environment.”

The grants, which were offered for the first time in 2013, provide assistance to departments who want to expand their online and blended learning offerings.

The grants provide support  for developing courses in new fully or substantially online programs (up to $50,000); new online or blended courses, or redevelopment of existing courses to an online or blended delivery mode (up to $10,000); or creating or incorporating Open Educational Resources into a course to enhance student learning. This year, there is also a new category for the development of Open Online Courses (up to $10,000), which are similar to the MOOCs that have captured the attention of universities over the last few years.

Nick Baker, acting director of the Office of Open Learning, said that this year’s theme reflects the idea of developing high quality, but flexible approaches to teaching and learning that are becoming critical to universities worldwide remaining competitive in attracting the best students.

“Well-designed online and blended learning experiences can open up a whole new world of educational opportunities, and can be just as rigorous and satisfying as their on campus counterparts,” he said. “It’s also important to recognise that learning to teach, and learning to learn, in this way takes time and experience, and sometimes a blended approach that leverages the strengths of online and face to face learning environments will give better outcomes for everyone.”

Baker said that there was clear demand for online and blended course development from both instructors and students.

“With last year being the inaugural call for the grants, we expected to see a handful for applications, but we actually had more than 30 full applications and nearly 60 expressions of interest from right across the University,” said Baker. “Likewise, we know that student demand for these courses is high, with around 120 online and blended courses currently offered each year attracting over 10,000 enrolments, and most courses having waitlists.”

The grants funded 11 projects in 2013, making an impact on nearly 30 courses and supporting work on two completely online programs.

The call for applications for open learning grants is now open, and closes July 4. Application forms and guidelines are available online at http://www.uwindsor.ca/openlearning/14/students.

Contact Baker at nbaker@uwindsor.ca  or 519-253-3000, ext. 4925, or Alicia Higgison at higgison@uwindsor.ca or ext. 2008 for more information about the grants, or to find out what services the Office of Open Learning can offer to assist faculty and departments in designing online and blended courses.