University of Southern Queensland

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The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Australia has offered online degree courses via its USQOnline initiative since 1999. Today students can choose from over 150 undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, pursuing their studies on campus, via distance learning, or by combining the two. Some courses are offered purely online, though 'USQOnline' no longer exists as a separate entity.

Opened in 1967 as an Institute of Technology, today USQ is a major multi-campus Australian university. Its main campus is in Toowoomba, in South East Queensland, Australia. More than 26,000 students were enrolled at the university in 2008; of this figure, approximately 17,000 (75%) relied on some form of distance learning.

The USQ Web site is at http://www.usq.edu.au/.


More details

USQ Education Partner offices are located in Australia, Malaysia, China, Fiji, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan and Taiwan. Education Support offices are located in Fiji, Germany, Oman, South Africa and UAE.

In 1999 USQ launched USQOnline, which offered numerous degree programmes exclusively online. Courses were delivered via the Indelta in-house LMS as part of a major push for a 'total eLearning Solution'. Indelta, a wholly owned commercial initiative of USQ, had stakeholders and users from around the world. However, due to numerous factors (and fierce competition in the LMS marketplace in particular), by July 2004 the OBHE reported that Indelta was in liquidation. USQ moved briefly to course delivery via WebCT Vista (now owned by Blackboard) before ultimately selecting Moodle for full deployment in Fall 2008.

OBHE Subscribers may read more about Indelta's history and liquidation in a July 2004 Breaking News item posted at http://www.obhe.ac.uk/news/July2004.html/.

It is also worth noting that USQ launched its own OpenCourseWare (OCW) Initiative in 2007, becoming the first Australian member of the OCW Consortium. See http://ptsefton.com/blog/2007/07/30/11-39-44.679295/ for more information.


Distance learning

USQ's off-campus students are provided with study packages which may offer a combination of books, CD-ROMS and online materials. International students (who represent more than 80 countries) may choose to receive support from either USQ in Australia or from an Education Partner or Regional Support Office, located throughout the world. Some of these offices are linked to local universities or colleges which offer facilities for use by USQ students.

University of Southern Queensland Distance Education Centre (DEC) is the first distance education facility in the world to receive international quality accreditation to ISO9001 standard. USQ is ALSO accredited with the Distance Education Training Council (DETC), an American public service organisation dedicated to identifying quality distance learning institutions. More than 300 undergraduate and postgraduate award programs of study (eg degree, diploma, certificate) are currently offered by USQ.

USQ is recognised both nationally and internationally for its distance education programmes, and was the inaugural winner of the International Council for Open and Distance Learning (ICDE) prize for institutional excellence (for its global education initiatives and expertise in providing flexible learning opportunities around the world).


VLE

Moodle is the course management system used to host courses on the USQStudyDesk in UConnect. All courses, regardless of their delivery mode (on-campus, external, or USQOnline) have a 'presence' or Course Home Page in the USQStudyDesk.

At the start of each semester, all courses are loaded into the USQStudyDesk and staff and students are automatically enrolled into their appropriate course/s. Content on the course home page will vary from full course materials to links to items such as Past Exam Papers and Recorded Lectures. All external courses will include a link to the Introductory Book and the first 2 Modules of the study materials. A file titled Using Discussion Groups and Mail is included in most external courses to assist students in using the various communication tools in the USQStudyDesk.


Reports

See the case study in UNESCO "The Virtual University" - http://www.unesco.org/iiep/virtualuniversity/media/document/Ch8_USQOnline_Taylor.pdf

And:

http://www.unesco.org/iiep/virtualuniversity/media/document/Ch8_USQOnline_Taylor_update.pdf


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