Building Bridges for Bridge Builders: Evolution of Building Two Online Programs

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Our design team partnered with the College of Engineering at a research one university to put two graduate programs online. Learn about the hurdles and successes of our journey as we collaborated with college leadership and units across the university to make positive institutional change and successfully launch these programs.


Breana Yaklin is an Instructional Designer for the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology and for Teaching and Learning Technology with IT Services. She supports faculty to design strong student-focused learning experiences, and has been conducting interviews with undergraduate students to gather student voice and better inform curriculum design. Lately, she has been working closely with academic advising units to support proactive advising and student success change initiatives.

Additional Authors

In her role as Learning Experience Designer, Summer partners with campus colleagues to design learning and development experiences that maximize active learning techniques. Through empathy, inspiration, design, and assessment she creates a more holistic and user-centered approach focused on principles of instructional systems design. Prior to the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, Summer trained thousands of faculty, staff, and students with MSU IT on topics ranging from technical skills to emotional intelligence. Her passion for learning is fueled by the years spent as a fourth grade classroom teacher to adjunct faculty at community college. Summer earned a B.A. and M.A. in Education from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. When she’s not spending time with her husband and 3 boys you can find her livin’ la vida loca.
Mrs. Bradley is the Media Production Specialist at Michigan State University, where her team collaborates with faculty, staff, and students to create video content for MSU events and curriculum. In addition to consulting with clients, producing video, and managing projects, she also provides training to members of the community who want to learn more about creating their own video content. Prior to her position at MSU, she worked in university marketing where she worked on ad campaigns and produced the creative for them. For the past 8 years she has been working extensively as a visual artist, specializing in videography, illustration, design, and photography. Currently, she is using these skills in partnerships with independent filmmakers, where she has worked as a 2nd unit cameraperson and art director.

Extended Abstract

An online program is greater than the sum of its courses. Our small team of learning designers and one media specialist discovered that we would need more than a series of online courses to fully launch two new Graduate Engineering online programs at our research one university. 

In February 2018, our project began with one learning designer and one media specialist supporting faculty to develop 20 online courses for two new online programs. Over the span of two years, our two-person support team grew to five. We rescaled our team’s approach to supporting faculty and our work expanded to include:

  • Developing an online program orientation
  • Developing the online proctor process for the college
  • Coordinating with a third-party Online Program Management (OPM) vendor, contracted for marketing, recruitment, and retention 
  • Establishing bi-weekly check-ins with department chairs to address a RAID log (Risks, Actions, Issues, and Decisions)
  • Partnering with our university accessibility team and Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities
  • Coordinating with our university admissions, controller, registrar offices, and IT
  • Coordinating with college and university finance and budgeting personnel

While we still remained focused on supporting faculty to put a total of 20 courses online, our roles and duties far expanded that work. Unfamiliar with the university policies, stakeholders, and departments, the tasks presented in this project involved several layers of networking and discovery, as well as challenges for resourcing production, roadblocks with university processes, and pedagogical strategy. In this session, attendees will learn about our journey of discovering the work that goes into successfully launching two online programs and the strategies we developed and implemented. When starting this project, our university did not have a campus-wide online strategy established. Consequently, our work on this project has demonstrated the significance of establishing an institutional online strategy. Throughout this process, our team has identified critical components that are currently in development to be implemented across the entire university. This strategy includes further exploration into online program management and online quality standards to support existing, developing, and future online programs across the university. 

Upon successfully launching these two online programs, our partnership with these two departments reached its conclusion. Our team developed a sustainability plan to ensure future success and continuous improvement of these programs. The sustainability plan consists of recommendations for on-going support and a handoff package. The handoff package includes materials developed during our partnership and a list of stakeholders combined with operational processes developed and implemented with the OPM vendor across the university. Throughout this presentation, we will pause to reflect and discuss the challenges and institution-specific strategies that speak to the diversity within our institutions. 

Participants in this session will:

  • Explore our work to put two graduate programs online
  • Reflect on their own needs for online program support
  • Identify who needs to be involved in this work at their own institution
  • Discuss strategies for streamlining this work and improving communication across an institution
  • Receive access to planning documents and tools

Join us to learn about our work to spark positive institutional change across our university and come prepared to discuss what this might look like at your institution.