Online learning programs find home on USF website
Distance Learning and Continuing Education students will now be able to access their programs in one location – a website called University College (UC).
USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said a link to UC was added to the academics tab on USF’s main website at the beginning of the spring semester.
Wilcox describes UC, which was once called eCampus, Educational Outreach and Continuing Education, as a “unit responsible for delivering our Continuing Education program, Distance Learning and Online programs, graduate certificates and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).”
“In the past, you couldn’t find graduate certificate programs or general studies programs in any college,” Wilcox said. “You had to Google them and hopefully it would eventually take you to eCampus. It was not an appropriate home for graduate students.”
Geared towards degree-seeking students, as well as online students and adults taking classes “just for the fun of it,” according to the OLLI website, Wilcox said UC serves as a portal that offers each of these programs on one page, making it easier to navigate than if the programs were separate.
While keeping these programs together is efficient, he said it is also a legal requirement, but was not a result of legal action against the University.
“State law requires that it be delivered in a unit or college that houses Continuing Education,” Wilcox said. “It just made good sense to us that if all of our other degree programs are delivered through colleges, we made sure that UC programs have a legal home in a college.”
UC is currently managed by Interim Director Sandra Cooper, who will hold the position until a dean is hired this summer following a national search.
The college itself is funded by money from surplus Continuing Education tuition funds, OLLI grants and gifts to the University and is used to manage the website, among other expenses.
“ECampus already had responsibility for coordinating the Univeristy’s distance learning programs and continuing education efforts,” Cooper said. “The repositioning of (UC) expands this role and strengthens (our) ability to develop new programs that serve traditional students and adult learners.”
She said UC’s emphasis is to provide access to a variety of educational opportunities the University has to offer and provide academic support services to students enrolled in online classes.
“UC provides access to degree programs and professional development for the community and businesses,” Cooper said. “Many of these programs serve adults looking to advance their careers, learn new skills or enrich their lives. Programs for experienced learners include graduate certificates, professional master’s degrees and noncredit education.”
The UC website contains contains course catalogs, such as Distance Learning catalogs, links for “professional and personal enrichment,” recent UC news and UC success stories.
It also contains USF4YOU, a portal for adult students that want to learn online, finish their degrees or begin graduate programs. Students can contact representatives through a phone number listed on the website or through a “live chat” webcam option, according to usf4you.usf.edu.
UC does not have its own building, but representatives are located in SVC 1072.