Minnesota Online honored with 2006 Institutional Service Award

Posted: November 15, 2006

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities also recognized for eFolio Minnesota

Minnesota Online, the gateway to programs and courses offered via the Internet by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, has received the 2006 Institutional Service Award from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

The international nonprofit organization, also known as CAEL, presented the award Nov. 10 during its international conference in Boston.

"CAEL applauds the efforts of Minnesota Online to provide students with an outstanding educational opportunity," the organization stated. "By allowing students to access the online learning opportunities provided by Minnesota State community colleges, technical colleges and universities through one Web site, Minnesota Online is working toward CAEL's mission to expand learning opportunities for adults."

Minnesota Online offers more than 4,700 course sections and 150 programs, making it the largest public provider of online education in Minnesota.

"The online format allows working adults who are challenged by time and geography to integrate learning into their increasingly busy schedules," the council stated in its award program. "Minnesota Online allows students to find coursework, online financial aid service, educational planning tools, contact information, and live online and telephone support. Learning is made easily accessible to students through this unique collaboration of colleges and universities, and CAEL enthusiastically supports these efforts to increase accessibility."

Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, accepted the award on behalf of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. "We are very pleased that the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning has recognized the success of our 32 institutions and their faculty and staff in breaking new ground to meet the higher education needs of busy students of all ages," Baer said. "The phenomenal growth of Minnesota Online enrollment demonstrates that we are filling a substantial need for these flexible courses and programs."

During 2005-2006, 42,120 students took online courses from one of the 32 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, an increase of more than 11,000 students over the previous year.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning also recognized Minnesota Online as a leader in providing opportunities for current students and graduates to create and maintain electronic portfolios through eFolio Minnesota, an online service available for free to all Minnesotan residents. The service has more than 50,000 users ranging from elementary school students to adult employees.

This is the second major award for Minnesota Online this fall. In October, Minnesota Online won a Tekne Award in the technology user category for an established company. The Tekne Awards, recognizing Minnesota's technology users and developers, are presented annually by the Minnesota High Tech Association and Minnesota Technology, Inc., in partnership with LifeScience Alley.

Minnesota Online was launched in 2002 and is hosted and supported by the system office. The service frees the state colleges and universities from much of the cost and labor associated with providing hardware, software and support staff. Minnesota Online also provides student support, pre-admissions planning and advising seven days a week through e-mail, Ask a Question, Live Chat and a toll free number, 1-800-456-8519. In addition, Minnesota Online provides a wide range of services and training programs for corporations and businesses.