We’ve come a long way to ensure anytime, anyplace learning is possible.

Starting out as Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) in 1999, we have been the leading professional online learning society devoted to advancing quality e-Education into the mainstream of education through its community. In 2014, as a self-sustaining worldwide organization, we rebranded to the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) to better align with our mission, a dedication to providing access to high quality e-Education to individuals, institutions, professional societies and the corporate community.

History

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation had a critical role in fueling the development of online learning in American higher education via its Anytime, Anyplace Learning Program. A most significant initiative of this grant program was the establishment of the Sloan Consortium of Colleges and Universities (Sloan-C).

Starting in 1999, the Foundation funded 346 projects totaling $72 million, most of which were made to non-profit colleges and universities. Major distance and adult learning providers such as the University of Maryland University College and the Penn State World Campus were early grantees. Following on the heels of these institutions, large mainstream public university systems such as the University of Illinois, the State University of New York and the University of Central Florida developed substantial online learning programs. In the early 2000s, a number of online initiatives at several urban-based colleges and universities such as the City University of New York, the University of Illinois – Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee evolved and spurred the move to blended learning environments.

Evolution

Originally an informal organization of Foundation grantees, the Consortium incorporated in 2008 as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization and became the largest recipient of funding from the Anytime, Anyplace, Learning Program, receiving in excess of $15 million over the course of the grant program. We evolved into “an institutional and professional leadership organization dedicated to integrating online education into the mainstream of higher education, helping institutions and individual educators improve the quality, scale, and breadth of online education.” It provides a full range of member services including annual conferences, professional development webinars, publishing the OLC journal, Online Learning, (formerly known as the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks), and sponsoring research initiatives. In 2012, it had approximately 300 institutional and 700 individual dues-paying members.

As the Consortium developed and evolved, it became an attraction for a number of individuals and higher education institutions that had invested in online education. As a result, whereas the Foundation seeded and gave life to the Consortium, the Consortium is now the vehicle that provides exposure for the Foundation among the broader online learning providers.

Private, for-profit colleges and universities never received any grant funding from the Anytime, Anyplace Learning Program, however, they are an important and growing sector of online learning in American higher education. Their awareness of the Foundation’s contribution to online learning is modest at best and somewhat lower than for other non-grantee institutions. And again, what awareness that does exist comes from their association with the organization.

Present and Future

The organization’s reach and impact has grown significantly since it was first conceived in 1999. We aim to extend our presence, mission, programs and service into new markets worldwide. Rebranding as the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) enables us to clearly represent and position the organization, and extend our presence, mission, programs and services into new markets worldwide.

OLC remains committed to helping institutions create high-quality educational experiences, improving the U.S./international field of online education, contributing to the creation of an educated workforce, and creating mutually-beneficial partnerships with like-minded organizations.