UW System launches Online Learning Initiative, funded by anonymous $2 million gift.

The program will focus on improving UW universities’ online learning and advising and improving access to technology for students. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

The UW System launches a new program to optimize online learning with the help of a $2 million anonymous donation. 

In a Monday afternoon press release, the UW System debuted its Online Learning Initiative, a four-part administrative program designed to improve the quality and accessibility of online classes at UW-System universities. According to the press release, the initiative is funded through a $2 million gift from an anonymous patron motivated by the coronavirus-mandated shift to virtual learning at UW schools. 

UW System President Tommy Thompson said through a press release that the initiative will allow UW schools to improve upon its existing virtual learning infrastructure.

“Last March, our faculty, staff, and students did a great job adapting to online teaching, advising, and learning, and UW System laid the groundwork to make a rapid pivot successful,” said Thompson. “The Online Learning Initiative will give us the tools to get better.” 

The initiative’s four components consist of three professional development programs to train UW employees, be they faculty or student support staff, in best practices for online versions of their jobs, and a needs-based grant program to give UW students access to the technology required to complete their learning. 

As COVID-19 continues to spread across Wisconsin and the county, all 13 UW universities are planning to re-open in the fall with a mix of in-person and online classes, along with additional public health measures to protect students and staff from the virus.