Since the mid-1990s, the University of Minnesota has offered classes and later full academic programs through online and blended delivery. The University now offers more than 75 online learning programs (some with short-term residencies) through its campuses, providing educational access to both local and distance learners. The Duluth and Morris campuses along with eleven Twin Cities collegiate units offer at least one completely online program. In the last pre-pandemic academic year (2018-19), over 2,000 courses were available online and more than 29,000 students were enrolled in at least one online course. The number of students taking at least one completely online course was up five percent over the previous year. During the initial part of the pandemic (2019-20), close to 4,000 courses were available online with over 37,000 students enrolled in at least one online course.
In the online and blended learning area, the Center for Educational Innovation collaborates with instructors and academic units to:
- develop plans for professional development for online instructors,
- engage faculty with tools and resources for teaching online,
- assess feasibility, costs, and marketing approaches for online programs,
- articulate and develop unit-level approaches for strategic online course offerings,
- foster networks across the University of Minnesota to deepen online learning experiences,
- support academic unit efforts to provide students with expanded access to degree and certificate programs through online and blended options,
- provide prospective students information on online and blended courses and programs through the University of Minnesota Online website and call center,
- advocate for streamlined policies,
- oversee the U of M Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) partnership with Coursera, and
- provide leadership for inter-institutional online partnerships related to online learning.