What is UMPI OpenU?

UMPI OpenU is an innovative online learning project that allows learners around the world to participate in specific UMPI online courses for free, as long as they aren’t seeking college credit. Each participant will have full access to the designated online courses and all of the materials related to them, including direct interaction with the instructors responsible for designing and delivering the courses as well as the UMPI students who are taking them for credit. Participants will be able to do this at no cost for either the classes or the books.

All classes available through UMPI OpenU are real UMPI online courses that UMPI students are taking for credit. The exciting and unique thing that UMPI is doing is inviting non-UMPI students to take part in these courses as if they were just another student in the class – with full access to Blackboard, the system the University uses to deliver online courses, and the ability to engage in discussion boards with the instructor and classmates, view written and recorded lectures, and listen to podcasts.

Is this really 100% free?

Yes. There is no cost to take the online course, there are no fees, and you don’t even have to pay for any books. The University has deliberately required that all course materials be public domain works (i.e. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens), copyright free, or created and delivered by the instructor through Blackboard.  Public domain works will be available to participants either as PDF files through Blackboard, or personally downloaded as digital copies (through devices like a Kindle or Nook).

What kind of courses can I take?

Initially, the project involved a slate of English courses: from Introduction to Literature and Creative Writing to The British Novel, American Literature before 1900, and Literature of the Sea. In Spring 2012, courses in History, Government, and Communication were added. Based upon instructor interest and learner demand, more courses may be introduced in the future.

What rules do I need to follow while participating in a course?

All UMPI OpenU participants are asked to follow the rules of civil discourse – be respectful and inclusive, listen to others’ point of view, and make sure comments and criticism are constructive. Be aware that instructors have the right, at any time, to remove you from the course, so make sure you understand their expectations heading into the course and be sure to read through their syllabi carefully.

Why is UMPI offering this opportunity?

UMPI understands that there are many people who are interested in learning the materials taught in a college course but are not necessarily interested in earning credit toward a degree, or paying for such enrichment. UMPI OpenU gives people the ability to learn alongside UMPI students in an online setting and take away a much deeper knowledge of the subject area they have been studying. It also allows them to experience UMPI’s high-quality online courses first-hand.

Across the country, the idea of providing free “Massive Open Online Courses” has been embraced by large, well-known institutions, but in many cases, the courses are passive or “canned”, with limited or no access to the instructor or students. The University looked at this model and then decided to move forward on a unique alternative, providing participants with some very exciting opportunities that are not generally offered in the more widely touted free online courses. The University believes that when college course experiences are offered at no cost to interested learners, they should maintain the same high quality as any other UMPI course, and that participants should be able to ask questions, engage in conversation and be fully involved in the course.

Can I earn academic credit for an UMPI OpenU course?

As an OpenU participant, you cannot receive academic credit for the courses you take. However, UMPI OpenU learners will have the option during UMPI’s add/drop period to enroll in the courses for credit (thus becoming an UMPI student), but the courses may not be added for credit once the add/drop period is over.

Tell me more about earning prior learning experience credit.

At some point in the future, if you become an UMPI student, you may be able to earn a total of 6 credit hours of prior learning credit from your UMPI OpenU participation. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, you will need to submit a portfolio of the work you have completed in at least two courses, including course syllabi and pertinent materials.