Teaching Online

Professional Development

UCF’s Distributed Learning Initiative

A Brief History

In 1996, Academic Affairs launched a University Specials project to start the planning and funding of a centralized structure for the systematic development of online courses. One year later, the Course Development Unit was established and placed within the family of Information Technologies and Resources along with its sister units: the Library, Computer Services and Office of Instructional Resources. Many units collaborated to improve the quality of teaching and learning online at UCF.

The turning point came in 1996, when a planning retreat of Deans and Directors focused on shaping distance learning directions for the coming decade. Educom Vice President Carol Twigg participated as facilitator. The outcome of the retreat was the selection of three primary modes of mediated distribution: electronic classroom and videocassette; electronic classroom with two-way interactive video; and online, or asynchronous learning networks. The Deans also committed to the development of an online Bachelor of Liberal Studies program to begin the following fall as a two-plus-two program in cooperation with Brevard Community College. How would the university meet this aggressive timetable? The answer came from a series of faculty seminars on the World Wide Web. These were open invitation sessions where faculty demonstrated Web-related projects they had created. At one of these sessions, Professor Steven Sorg and his graduate assistant, Barbara Truman, demonstrated an online Vocational Education course the two had developed and successfully offered during the spring 1996 semester. The quality of this course, thoroughness of research, and methodology based on learning theory and instructional design principles made it the obvious model for UCF’s online distance learning initiative. Sorg and Truman were recruited to implement UCF’s first online faculty training and course development effort.i

Currently, Online@UCF offers fifteen undergraduate degree completion programs, and dozens of graduate degree programs and certificate programs via online delivery, plus 450+ online courses every semester from all academic areas.

In the Fall 2012 semester nearly 29,000 UCF students enrolled in at least one web or video based course.

In the Fall 2012 semester over 6,200 UCF students took only online classes.

Since its inception, over 1,000 full-time UCF faculty members have successfully completed the campus-wide faculty development course, IDL6543, to learn to develop and deliver effective online instruction.

i Juge, F., Hartman, J., Sorg, S., Truman, B., (1997) Asynchronous Learning Networks For Distributed Learning, Paper presented at the September, 1997, (RUFIS’97) Role of Universities in the Information Society conference, Prague, Czech Republic.