UMassOnline (the University of Massachusetts Online) was founded in 2001 to meet the online educational needs of US and international students, including working professionals and lifelong learners. It allows students to attend the same programmes, taught by the same faculty, as students on campus at the University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts, US.
UMass Amherst is the flagship and the largest of the UMass campuses. Other UMass campuses are in Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell or Worcester. UMassOnline offers more than 1,500 courses in 80 certificate and degree programmes across all five campuses, in a variety of topics. In April 2008 there were 33,900 students enrolled. Courses may be pursued exclusively online, through a local campus, or through a blend of the two modes. Applications, registrations and degree granting processes are managed at the campus level.
UMassOnline seeks to offer online students as much of an 'on-campus' experience as possible. This includes '24/7' tech support and academic advising. As at most US bricks and mortar campuses, courses typically begin in the autumn, spring, and summer. Courses may feature tutorials and audio lectures, photo materials, threaded asynchronous discussions, chat rooms, online readings, illustrations, and video.
The UMassOnline Web site is at http://www.umassonline.net/
'Blended' learning has been introduced only recently at UMassOnline. In January 2007, the Sloan Foundation awarded UMassOnline a $650,000 grant (and has since renewed funding) to help expand access to the University of Massachusetts. Blended learning was introduced at this time, and is being piloted across all campuses.
2004-2008 saw unprecedented growth for UMassOnline. In 2007 it announced programme revenue growth of 32% and enrolment growth of 25% in one year’s time. Similar gains were announced in April 2008, with another 26% increase in enrolments (to 33,900 from 26,855) and a 32% increase in revenue.
In January 2009 UMassOnline is scheduled to become first foreign entity to offer approved online higher education degrees in China.
UMassOnline uses Blackboard and Wimba for course delivery.
A 2001-2002 Berkeley/CSHE case study offers a glimpse of UMassOnline’s past: http://cshe.berkeley.edu/research/ebusiness/casestudies/umo.htm