Annual Impact Report 2017-2018 The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield

View the 2017-18 Annual Report in MS Word.


The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service strives to empower UIS faculty in the delivery of online education, support original scholarly research, build synergies between research and online education practices, and build online collaborations.


Online Learning at UIS

An Overview

Online learning at the University of Illinois Springfield began with a grant in 1997 from the University of Illinois system offices. Since then, online learning at UIS has experienced incredible growth. Today, UIS offers 12 online undergraduate degree programs, 13 online graduate degree programs, 9 online certification programs, and 15 online graduate certificates.

Growth of Online

UIS Online has shown significant growth since online courses were first offered in 1997. Almost 500 courses were delivered online during the Fall 2017 semester. Although a slight decrease was realized as overall enrollment at UIS decreased, UIS finished the 2017-18 academic year with an online seat count of 14,809.

The chart shows the total seat count in online courses from 2004 through 2018.

Nearly half (48.9%) of all credit hours at UIS were generated in online courses and an additional 7% were generated in blended courses during the 2017-18 academic year. Demand for online and blended courses peak during the summer terms with 93.6% of the total credit hours for Summer 2018 coming from online and blended courses.

Student Enrollment Pattern

For Academic Year 2017-18 at UIS, 42.6% of students took only online courses, 20.5% of students took only on-campus courses, and 36.9% of students mixed online and on-campuses courses. The trend in course enrollments patterns over the last decade shows decreasing numbers of students choosing only on-campus courses, while more students are choosing online only and mixed formats.

These charts show the percentages of course formats taken by by UIS students. Over the last decade, student course type preferences have shifted toward online and a mix of online and on-campus courses.

Full-Time Faculty Teach Online

Online courses at UIS are primarily taught by full-time faculty and often by the same faculty who teach the on-campus versions of the courses. Approximately one-third of online courses are taught by part-time faculty.

Most online courses at UIS are taught by full-time faculty.

Fast Facts: AY 2017-18

  • 2,179 online majors
  • 45.5% of graduate students are online
  • 31.0% of undergraduate students are online
  • 79.5% of UIS students took at least one online course

Where Do Online Students Live?

Outside Illinois

  • 48 states (not South Dakota or Vermont) plus DC, Puerto Rico & Guam
  • 2 Canadian Provinces (British Columbia & Ontario)
  • 12 foreign countries in total
  • 39.1% of online students are from outside of Illinois

In Illinois

  • 73 of 102 Illinois counties
  • 87.6% of Illinois students are from outside of Sangamon County
  • 81.7% of Illinois students are from outside of Sangamon County & its 8 contiguous counties

Illinois Counties

The Illinois counties that are home to the most online students are:

  1. Cook (22.1%)
  2. Sangamon (12.3%)
  3. Champaign (9.1%)
  4. Lake (7.6%)
  5. Dupage (4.6%)
  6. Peoria (4.4%)
  7. Tazewell (3.7%)
  8. McLean (3.3%)
  9. Will (2.6%)
  10. McHenry (2.3%)

Celebrating Our Students' Accomplishments

During the 2017-18 academic year, 422 of our online students graduated from their degree programs. On May 12, 2018, COLRS welcomed more than 70 of these new online graduates and their guests at the annual Commencement Brunch for UIS Online Graduates. The students traveled to UIS from ten other states and from one foreign country to attend the brunch. Fereshteh Morgan served as the Student Speaker for the ceremony.

Improving Online Teaching at UIS

COLRS staff meet faculty where they are: building solid foundations at the beginning of their online teaching journey or helping them evaluate and improve mature courses. We work with faculty one-on-one over email, the telephone, Skype for Business instant messaging, and face-to-face. In addition, COLRS staff present to departments and college meetings. During the 2017 calendar year, COLRS staff provided assistance to over 75% of all full-time and part-time faculty at UIS.

Watch UIS faculty share their perspectives of the impact of COLRS on their teaching.

Delivering Professional Development to the UIS Community

During AY 2017-18, COLRS staff presented over a dozen professional development workshops for UIS faculty, including a four-workshop series on accessibility. In addition, COLRS staff delivered a variety of presentations at the UIS New Faculty Orientation and the UIS Faculty Teaching & Learning Academy.

Faculty Participate in the UIS New Faculty Orientation

COLRS also hosted three half-day workshops for online program coordinators. These workshops allowed coordinators who support various online programs to hear from units at UIS about new developments, share best practices with each other, and contribute ideas on how to improve online learning at UIS.

Building Digital Community

A self-paced online course, Building Digital Community, was developed by COLRS staff as a professional development tool and resource for UIS online faculty. The course includes modules on the foundations of online learning, accessibility, instructional design, learning theories, facilitating online learning, and student assessment. Contact COLRS to learn more about the Building Digital Community course.

Community for Innovation & Engaged Learning

COLRS staff are active members of the Community for Innovation & Engaged Learning (CIEL) group at UIS. At the inaugural CIEL Symposium in the Spring, COLRS staff collaborated with UIS faculty for presentations:

  • Integrating the Scholarship of Teaching into Your Teaching, Research & Service -- COLRS Faculty Fellows and Michele Gribbins
  • Novel E-collaboration Approaches to Enhance Social Presence and Effectiveness of On-Line Learning -- Brian Chen and Emily Boles

Promoting Online Integrity

COLRS staff continue to promote the importance of ensuring online academic integrity at UIS through faculty development workshops, engagement with the Academic Integrity Council, and the sharing of best practices for designing courses and assessments. In addition, COLRS serves as a faculty resource for the use of tools to help identity possible violations of academic integrity including Turnitin, a plagiarism detection tool, and Examity, an online video proctoring service provider. During the fall and spring semesters, UIS students completed over 1100 online exams that were proctored by Examity.

Creating a More Accessible Future

Dr. Vance Martin

With the addition of Dr. Vance Martin as the Campus Accessibility Specialist, COLRS has strengthened its resources for ensuring online courses and digital content are accessible. Dr. Martin works closely with faculty across campus to assist them with understandings of how to make their course materials ADA compliant. He brings over 11 years’ experience working with accessibility in online education and faculty professional development.

Since Dr. Martin’s arrival in October 2017, COLRS has offered four accessibility workshops for UIS faculty and has provided one-on-one help to nearly 175 faculty. During the spring semester, he supervised COLRS student workers who remediated content for 42 online courses.

Supporting Student Engagement

Light Board Video Studio

In the COLRS Light Board video studio, faculty are able to create micro-lectures for their courses. From the instructor’s point of view, they’re writing on a surface analogous to a chalkboard while facing a camera. While the instructor is writing on the lightboard, the instructor is able to maintain eye contact with students.

Green Screen

The green screen studio can help faculty appear anywhere -- from the inside of a CPU to the middle of the Emiquon field station, all while comfortably in the COLRS video studio. After faculty members record their content, COLRS staff can enhance the video in post-production by adding images or videos that support the lecture content.

Shaky Hand

The shaky hand format allows faculty to demonstrate models, draw graphs, or solve math problems. Students see the instructor's handout moving objects and hear their voice. It's a quick and effective format to resolve muddiest points.

Illinois Online Network

Improving Online Teaching Statewide & Beyond

The Illinois Online Network (ION) is a professional development unit founded in 1997 by the University of Illinois System. In July 2017, the ION moved from the University of Illinois System to COLRS. ION’s mission to develop highly qualified online instructors complements the online teaching and research focus of COLRS. Faculty development courses from ION may be taken as continuing education units or as academic credit through the University of Illinois Springfield.

During the year, ION courses were reviewed and redeveloped for quality and consistency. Eleven courses were newly developed and the online administrator certificate was modified to incorporate the UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence. Three certifications are now available through ION: Master Online Teacher, Master Online Administrator, and Digital Accessibility for Educators.

In addition to the online ION courses, ION hosted a face-to-face workshop series for Digital Accessibility at the UIS campus during June 2018. COLRS staff members delivered the training to attendees representing a variety of institutions in the state.

Welcoming a New Director

Dr. Andrea Guerrero

During the transition of ION to UIS, COLRS staff member Emily Boles served as the Interim ION Director. Dr. Andrea Guerrero was hired as the permanent ION Director in February 2018. She leads the pedagogical and technological support of the external faculty development program, recruits and supervises faculty teaching in the program, and coordinates other activities including program marketing and student retention for ION. Since joining ION, Dr. Guerrero has been active in ION’s outreach efforts, having visited many Illinois community colleges and strengthening ION’s social media and marketing presence.

ION Enrollment

During the 2017-18 Academic Year, ION offered over 40 courses. These courses enrolled over 900 students who maintained a course completion rate of 90.2%. Since 1999, ION has served nearly 14,000 participants.


Faculty Fellows Program

Since its start in the Fall of 2010, the COLRS Faculty Fellows Program coordinates, facilitates and advocates for research in online and blended learning. New fellows are selected each March in a competitive application process and serve a two-year term.

The goals of the COLRS Faculty Fellows Program include:

  • To stimulate and support research on online and blended learning
  • To foster inter-institutional collaborative research projects
  • To explore the application of educational technologies in online teaching and learning
  • To investigate and advocate for the quality and effectiveness of online and blended course offering
  • To document the impact of online instruction on teaching and learning
  • To disseminate UIS’ research findings
  • To lead and support efforts to secure grant funding for research that supports the mission of COLRS
  • To provide mentorship to faculty teaching online

2016-2018 Faculty Fellows

Dr. Brian Chen, Dr. Scott Day, and Dr. Carolee Rigsbee

Dr. Cheng-Chia (Brian) Chen, Assistant Professor of Public Health, will explore the application of educational technologies in online/blended teaching and learning environments. He will research the use of online debate and its impact on student satisfaction, as well as the effectiveness of gamification in the context of learning and student performance.

Dr. Scott Day, Professor and Chair of Educational Leadership, will investigate design-based approaches to improving online courses using peer review and analytics, from incremental course changes, developing communities of inquiry in online courses, and pedagogical approaches to massive open online courses.

Dr. Carolee Rigsbee, Assistant Professor of Management, will be undergoing the Quality Matters quality assurance process for her online courses in the College of Business and Management. As part of this process, she will quantify the benefits of a Quality Matters assessment for instructors and students. In addition, she will research change management in online teaching and learning to identify potential best practices.

2017-2019 Faculty Fellows

Dr. Laurel Newman, Dr. Carol Jessup, Dr. Layne Morsch, Dr. Egbe Egiebor, Dr. Kim Wiley

Dr. Egbe Egiebor, Assistant Professor of Public Health, will explore the application of educational technologies in online teaching and learning.

Dr. Carol Jessup, Associate Professor of Accountancy, will investigate the Quality Matters design approach to an Auditing course delivered in a blended learning format. In addition, she will use the Community of Inquiry Framework to survey students about the effectiveness of online learning.

Dr. Layne Morsch, Associate Professor of Chemistry, will investigate inter-institutional collaborative assignments with a focus on disciplinary language development within the field of organic chemistry. He previously served as a COLRS Faculty Fellow from 2014-2016 and is a Senior Faculty Fellow.

Dr. Laurel Newman, Executive Director, Center for Academic Success/Campus Ombuds/Associate Professor of Business Administration will research the impact of Quality Matters / Community of Inquiry based course redesign on student learning outcomes in management and business courses. She is also interested in the retention of online students and will research adjustment issues for new online students. She previously served as a COLRS Faculty Fellow from 2010-2012 and is a Senior Faculty Fellow.

Dr. Kimberly Wiley, Assistant Professor of Public Administration, will investigate the learning outcome similarities and differences between online and on-campus courses in the Graduate Certificate of Nonprofit Management coursework. She will incorporate a goal assessment tool into the courses to appraise the intended outcomes of this program.

2018-2020 Faculty Fellows

Dr. Josiah Alamu, Dr. Youngjin Kang, Dr. Mohammed Mohi Uddin, Dr. Donna Bussell

Four faculty have been named 2018-2020 Faculty Fellows and will begin their appointment in August 2018:

  • Dr. Josiah Alamu, Associate Professor of Public Health
  • Dr. Donna Bussell, Associated Professor of English
  • Dr. Youngjin Kang, Assistant Professor of Human Services
  • Dr. Mohammed Mohi Uddin, Assistant Professor of Accountancy

Selected Research by Past and Present COLRS Faculty Fellows Published in 2017-18

Bloemer, W., Day, S., & Swan, K. (2017). Gap Analysis: An Innovative Look at Gateway Courses and Student Retention. Online Learning, 21(3).

Bockmier-Sommers, D., Cheng-Chia C., & Martsch, M. (2017). Student perception of teacher empathy, high regard and genuineness and the impact on student engagement. e-mentor, (3), 66-72.

Morsch, L. A. (2017). Student authored video vignettes in chemistry. e-mentor, (3), 25-32.

Newman, L., & Windes, D. (2017) Resisting the global campus: Strategic, political and cultural dimensions undermining efforts to build a virtual campus. e-mentor, (3), 55-60.

Skagen, D., McCollum, B., Morsch, L., & Shokoples, B. (2018). Developing communication confidence and professional identity in chemistry through international online collaborative learning. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 19(2), 567-582.

College of Business and Management Quality Course Initiative

COLRS staff members Michele Gribbins and Emily Boles meets monthly with College of Business and Management faculty members Laurel Newman, Carolee Rigsbee, Carol Jessup, Sudeep Sharma, and Donna Rogers on a quality course initiative and research project. They are combining Quality Matters and Community of Inquiry to determine course quality and facilitation experiences, respectively. Students also complete the Core Self-Evaluation and the Proactive Personality Scale to determine if they may be moderating variables. Thus far, the group has presented at five regional and national conferences.

Publications by COLRS Staff

Cook, V.S., Gregory, R. (Fall 2018) Technology Trends Affecting Higher Education in 2018 and Beyond. Online Learning Journal Special Edition.

Cook, V.S., Schroeder, R. (Nov. 2018) Technology and Innovation in Teaching and Learning Online. In Smidt, E. and Rui, Li (Eds.) Technology Leadership for Innovation in Higher Education.

Cook, V.S., Uranis, J. (Nov. 2018) Standards for leading online and distance education initiatives. In Huang, G., Qian, J. (Eds.) Ensuring Quality and Integrity in Online Learning Programs

Martin, V.S. & Tonini, D.C. (2017) Experiential ethics education. In L. Gundersen (Ed.) Scientific integrity and ethics: With applications to the geosciences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Schroeder, R. & O’Brien, J. (2017) “Envisioning the Future: An Interview with John O'Brien." Unbound: Reinventing Higher Education

Presentations by COLRS Staff

During the 2017-18 academic year, COLRS staff presented at numerous academic and professional conferences, other institutions of higher education, and meetings of professional associations. Presentations were delivered at:

  • Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference, Nashville, TN
  • UPCEA Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD
  • Illinois Council of Continuing Higher Education, Chicago, IL
  • Online Learning Consortium Accelerate Conference, Orlando, FL
  • Faculty Summer Institute, Champaign, IL
  • Teaching Professor Conference, Atlanta, GA
  • Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable, Washington, DC
  • Teaching Professor Technology Conference, Atlanta, GA
  • United States Distance Learning Association, Indianapolis, IN
  • Higher Learning Commission Annual Conference, Chicago, IL
  • Midwest Academy of Management, Chicago, IL
  • Academic Impressions, San Antonio, TX
  • IBAAN School Celebration Conference, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Distance Teaching and Learning Conference, Madison, WI
  • Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Council
  • University of Wisconsin Extension Annual Faculty Symposium
  • UIS, UIC & UIUC Collaboration, Champaign, IL
  • University of Illinois President’s Executive Leadership Program
  • Faculty Summer Institute, Champaign, IL
  • Kaskaskia Community College
  • Lewis & Clark Community College
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, Canada
  • Bethel University, St. Paul, MN
  • Central Illinois Chapter of Society for Human Resource Managers

View Presentations by Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning

View Presentations by Vickie Cook, Executive Director of COLRS

View Presentations by Michele Gribbins, Online Learning and Faculty Development Specialist

View Presentations by Emily Boles, Online Learning and Faculty Development Specialist

View Presentations by Vance Martin, Campus Accessibility Specialist

Additional COLRS Projects

National Distance Learning Week

National Distance Learning Week is an annual opportunity to recognize those who make a continuous impact in the field of distance learning making academic programs available to students who otherwise would not have access to education. COLRS shared facts about online learning at UIS with the campus community, including a series of mini-infographics and video stories of UIS online students, faculty, and online coordinators.

Meet Tammy Hollo – A UIS Online Student in English

Meet Nicole Barney – A UIS Online Student in Mathematical Sciences

Meet Jeremy Thomas – A UIS Online Student in Computer Science

Meet Jamie Gower – A UIS Online Student in Psychology


COLRS, Online Program Coordinators, and the Office of Admissions have collaborated to implement best practices to automate interactions through the SLATE CRM admissions platform. The program aims to increase the rate at which student inquiries become registered students. COLRS staff have also been customizing SLATE to provide course registrations, participant communications, payments, and course records for non-credit course and event registration.

Employability Skills Project

The Employability Skills Project is a COLRS effort lead by Tammy Craig. The project aims to promote employability skills development and awareness as it relates to online pedagogy. She is designing content for use by faculty and online program coordinators to promote informed decision-making and strategic planning relative to education, career and professional development. Content is customizable to complement course subject matter and objectives.

Learn more about the COLRS Employability Skills Project.

Grant Work for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

COLRS staff continued worked with staff from the UIC Center for Public Safety and Justice to adapt their courses to an online format for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) in the U.S. Department of Justice. The team adapted courses that promote community policing and procedural justice in U.S. communities, including Coffee with a Cop, Recruiting and Hiring, and Community Connections.

Open Education Resources Fellows

In April 2018, COLRS accepted applications for two new open education resources (OER) initiatives at UIS: an Open Educational Resources (OER) Fellows Program for Individual Faculty and an Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative for Programs. Both initiatives serve to reduce or eliminate students’ textbook costs by increasing the adoption and use of OERs in classes or programs at the University of Illinois Springfield. Lower textbook costs have been attributed to increased access and better learning outcomes for students. The program will launch during the Fall 2018 semester.


Dr. Cook Named OLC Fellow

Dr. Vickie Cook, Executive Director of COLRS, was recognized as a member of the 2017 Class of Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Fellow in October 2017. OLC Fellows are selected by the OLC Board of Directors based on their outstanding and extraordinary qualifications in the field of online learning, their significant experience in online learning, their record of distinguished service to OLC, and their extraordinary contributions or leadership in the field of online learning. Of the 38 individuals who have been recognized as OLC Fellows, she is the third educator representing UIS. She joins Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning, and Dr. Karen Swan, COLRS Research Associate and James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership, who were both selected in the Inaugural Class of OLC Fellows in 2010.

Dr. Cook Receives Service Award

Dr. Vickie Cook

In February 2018, Dr. Cook was awarded the Illinois Council on Continuing and Higher Education (ICCHE) Award for Service. ICCHE is a collaboration among Illinois public colleges and universities, Illinois private college and universities, private-for-profit institutions, and multi-university institutions. Dr. Cook was recognized for her extended and exemplary service to ICCHE and the State of Illinois.

Dr. Swan Receives Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Karen Swan

Dr. Karen Swan, COLRS Research Associate and James J. Stukel Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership, received the 2017 Distinguished Service Award from the National University Technology Network. The award is the highest honor given by the organization. Dr. Swan was selected due to her commitment to higher education and for the work she is doing with online learning. She is recognized as a leading researcher in the nation on the effectiveness of online teaching and learning.

Dr. Cook Selected for the President’s Executive Leadership Program

Dr. Vickie Cook represented UIS at the University of Illinois President’s Executive Leadership Program, a program that serves to broaden participants’ understanding of the University of Illinois System and its Universities. The program consisted of four seminars held over the course of a year.

Recognition for Our Online Programs

Online programs at UIS have been recognized by many outside entities during the academic year:

  • Ranked #30 for Best Online Graduate Business Program (excluding MBA) by US News & World Report
  • Ranked #41 for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by US News & World Report
  • Ranked #30 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans by US News & World Report
  • Ranked #14 for Most Affordable Graduate Schools Online by College Choice
  • Ranked #2 in Illinois by Best Online Colleges
  • Ranked #25 for Accredited Online Psychology Degrees by Guide to Online Schools
  • Ranked #2 for Best Online Schools Offering a Master’s in Political Science by Guide to Online Schools


COLRS staff are actively engaged in service to the field of online teaching and learning and to the University of Illinois.

Serving Our Profession

Professional contributions of the COLRS staff during the 2017-18 academic year include the following:

  • Board of Directors, University Professional Continuing Education Association (UPCEA)
  • Center for Online Leadership Advisory Council, UPCEA
  • Center for Online Leadership & Strategy Strategic Planning Committee, UPCEA
  • Vice Chair for Annual Conference & Special Events, Online Administration Network, UPCEA
  • Central Region Conference Planning Committee, UPCEA
  • Hallmarks of Online Leadership Consultant, UPCEA
  • Consulting Team, UPCEA
  • Treasurer, Illinois Council of Continuing Higher Education (ICCHE)
  • Membership Committee Chair, ICCHE
  • Public University Representative, ICCHE
  • Distance Learning Working Group, Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC)
  • Mellon Foundation Grant course-sharing projects, COPLAC
  • Microsoft Accessibility Team
  • Steering Committee & Exhibitors/Sponsors Subcommittee Chair, Faculty Summer Institution
  • Online Learning Journal Editorial Review Board

In addition, COLRS staff have served as reviewers for numerous journals and conferences. They are members in many organizations and associations including UPCEA, OLC, ICCHE, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Cooperative for Educational Technologies, and the Literacy Advisory Board for Illinois Secretary of State Literacy Office.

Serving Our University

COLRS staff contribute to the success of the University of Illinois by serving on several committees across the UIS campus and the U of I system during the 2017-18 academic year:

  • U of Illinois System Online Management & Planning Team
  • U of Illinois System Online Educational Research Collaborative
  • European Union General Data Protection Regulation Distance Learning Working Group
  • Exploration of School of Continuing Education Development
  • Blackboard Administration Team
  • Institutional Data Steering Committee
  • Student Technology Arts & Research Symposium
  • Academic Professionals Advisory Committee
  • Civil Service Advisory Committee
  • Provost Search Committee
  • Executive Director, Center for Academic Success, Search Committee
  • Educational Leadership Associate/Full Professor Search Committee (Chair)
  • Director, Illinois Online Network, Search Committee (Chair)
  • Campus Accessibility Specialist Search Committee (Chair)
  • Director of Technical Services and Acquisitions for Brookens Library Search Committee
  • Senior Data Analyst Search Committee

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service

University of Illinois Springfield

1 University Plaza, MS-BRK 425, Springfield, IL 62703

217-206-7317 | colrs@uis.edu

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