Office for University Relations

NEWS RELEASE, January 30, 2013

 Program addresses growing need for online education administration skills


          URBANA, Ill. —  A University of Illinois certificate program that prepares faculty and education professionals to provide effective administrative support for online courses meets an increasing need for trained program support professionals. The program recently graduated its first class, all from Illinois community colleges.   

More than 6.7 million college students took an online class for credit in the fall of 2011 according to a survey conducted in 2012 by the Babson Survey Research Group. The growing popularity of MOOC – massive open online courses – contributes to a developing need for better trained staff to develop and deliver courses and provide support for online learning in colleges and universities.

The Certified Online Learning Administrators (COLA) certificate program offered by the Illinois Online Network (ION) certifies faculty, staff and administrators after they successfully complete a series of five classes and a practicum. COLA courses include online program administration, course/program quality, student support, and faculty training issues. Electives include globalization, blended/hybrid models, and copyright and intellectual property issues.

“Many individuals leading and administering online education have little online learning-specific training because the field is so new,” said program coordinator Scott Johnson. “The COLA program provides specialized courses that are valuable to educators, student service staff and others involved in the online education enterprise.”

COLA costs are based on an individual’s membership status. University of Illinois faculty members pay nothing for core and elective courses and $150 for advanced online seminars. U of I staff pay a reduced cost of $60 for each core and elective course, $72 for the practicum, and $150 for advanced online seminars. Participants from other institutions pay based on their institutions’ membership in ION.

Founded in 1997, Illinois Online Network is a professional development initiative that provides comprehensive training for online teaching and learning to faculty and staff from higher education institutions in Illinois and around the world.  ION founding partners include community colleges in Illinois.


The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 77,000 students, nearly 23,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.