FMU Joins Lumen Learning, Oakwood University and Wiley College for Online Education Initiative
Florida Memorial University, Lumen Learning, Oakwood University and Wiley College recently announced their collaboration in support of The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College, with the goal of improving online education at HBCUs through the effective use of open educational resources. The Universities are forging a new path by tapping into the wealth of high quality open education resources (OER) available today. The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning is working with OER services provider Lumen Learning to tailor online courses to the unique needs of HBCUs and the students they serve.
“Distance learning is a great way to encourage collaboration and innovation in online learning within the HBCU community,” said Dr. Roslyn Artis, president of Florida Memorial University. “Florida Memorial is excited to be partners in this initiative. It will enhance the online courses that we will begin offering on June 23rd.”
When Wiley College embarked on plans to build out its distance learning programs, faculty members found a growing body of free, high quality OER that aligned with many of the high-demand courses the College planned to offer. Seeking faculty professional development on how to use OER effectively, Wiley College joined the Kaleidoscope Project funded by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) and began collaborating with Lumen Learning and other colleges to design and improve OER-based courses.
According to Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning, OER offer several advantages over commercial textbooks for addressing challenges faced by many HBCU students.
“Cost has an impact: OER are free, so no expensive commercial textbooks are required. Perhaps more importantly, OER provide faculty with the freedom to design a course that works for their students. With OER, they can excerpt, modify and rearrange course materials to align with learning objectives. They can also add elements that encourage student success, such as study aids, embedded assignments, culturally-relevant examples, and materials that fit different reading levels or learning preferences.”
Success with the Kaleidoscope Project collaboration in 2013 soon led to the creation of The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College. With most HBCUs relying on lean staffing and leaner budgets, distance learning programs have been largely out of reach. Leaders from Wiley College, Oakwood University and other HBCUs hope to change this picture.
“As we introduced the new OER-based online courses for Wiley College students, we saw huge potential for broader collaboration with other HBCUs,” said Dr. Glenda F. Carter, Executive Vice President and Provost at Wiley College. “We all face similar challenges with online education. Through The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning, we can share courses, materials, progress and innovation. With a pooled investment, we can get further and faster toward the outcomes we all want to see.”