President's Task Force on Online Learning 2009-2010

The President’s Task Force on Online Learning was formed following the recommendations of the Academic and Administrative Leadership Team’s Working Group on Online Learning in Spring 2009.

President Dease’s goal for FY10 expressed his charge to the Task Force.

By September 30, 2009, appoint two separate university task forces: one to define and establish UST’s vision for approaching online learning; the other to discuss copyright, discuss and formulate an intellectual property policy, and discuss associated best practice. By June 1, 2010, review task force reports related to online learning and copyright and intellectual property. [Emphasis added]

The members of the President’s Task Force on Online Learning, including staff, administrators, and faculty appointed by the Faculty Senate, were:

  • Lisa Burke, Opus College of Business
  • Candace Chou, College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling
  • John Heintz, University Libraries
  • Marisa Kelly, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Joe Komar, co-chair, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Bruce Kramer, College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling
  • Sam Levy, co-chair, IRT
  • David Penchansky, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Karen Rogers, College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling
  • Fritz Wenzel, Opus College of Business
  • Ex officio: Elizabeth Smith, IRT

The Task Force met from June 2009 – May 2010. The report of the Task Force was transmitted to President Dease on May 14, 2010.

Review the complete task force report

Executive Summary

University of St. Thomas (UST) President Dennis Dease has among his goals for FY2010 to “appoint a task force to define and establish UST’s vision for online learning,” The Task Force for Online Learning completed its work on May 14, 2010 with the submission of this report to President Dease.

The Task Force reviewed and discussed a wide variety of literature and reports on the growth of online learning offerings and markets in both not-for-profit colleges and universities and for-profit institutions and companies, the background of online learning at UST, the issues related to teaching and learning online across the continuum of methodologies, and the economics of online learning as an enterprise at UST and in the national context. The Task Force also commissioned a study of the market for online learning for UST and UST consulted with PiperJaffray’s Mark A. Marostica on his experience with the for-profit online education sector.

A broad summary of the findings indicates that:

  • Online learning is growing nationwide at rates far higher than traditional enrollment.
  • Online learning has entered the mainstream in higher education.
  • UST has employed online learning widely as support for traditionally delivered courses and programs.
  • UST has not entered the fully online learning market to offer degree programs.

The Task Force findings suggest that, given the limited capacity for traditional growth, failure to seize the opportunity to compete successfully in the online education sector may be very costly to UST.

The major recommendations of the Task Force are:

  • The University’s executive administration should develop and recommend to the Board of Trustees a broad university-wide policy direction on online learning based on the vision recommended to Fr. Dease.
  • Within the range of response options, the Task Force recommends the two following options, which are not mutually exclusive:Increase the integration of traditional delivery with electronic resources and online learning courses and programs.
  • Add an online program initiative dimension to UST’s delivery modes and explore possible partnerships.
  • The executive administration should appoint a strategic team involving vitally interested segments of the university community but particularly faculty and deans to develop a strategy and implementation guidelines for online learning program and courses for the
    University.
  • In developing strategy and policy, the Task Force recommends that the following be addressed clearly Institutional engagement, organizational structure and policy in how online courses and programs are developed, faculty development and engagement, faculty and student support and services, resource requirements, and technology support.

A Vision for Online Learning at UST

The University of St. Thomas is committed to enhancing student access through excellence in online teaching and learning and the increased use of electronic learning resources, flexible modes of learning and cost-effectiveness of courses and programs. This commitment is consistent with our mission, programs, the goals of the students that the University serves, and the themes of the University’s Strategic Plan – Access, Excellence and Catholic Identity.