Christopher Impey, University Distinguished Professor of astronomy, delivers a video lecture as part of his massive online open course.
Christopher Impey, University Distinguished Professor of astronomy, delivers a video lecture as part of his massive online open course.

UArizona Offers Free and Discounted Programs to Meet Needs of New Learners

Pay-what-you-can programming, massive open online courses and extended corporate partner benefits are allowing thousands of new learners to access UArizona offerings.
June 18, 2020
Joe Carella, assistant dean for Eller Executive Education
Joe Carella, assistant dean for Eller Executive Education
Kara Aquilano Forney, executive director of the Arizona Online Corporate Initiative
Kara Aquilano Forney, executive director of the Arizona Online Corporate Initiative

The University of Arizona is looking to grow its extended family of learners by making some of its programming more affordable. Through multiple initiatives, the university is offering discounted or free resources to those looking to build on their education and training in a difficult economic environment.

Pay What You Can

Eller Executive Education, a University of Arizona-affiliated nonprofit that provides nondegree, executive-level management and leadership training, is offering its Leadership Readiness for Turbulent Times program on a "pay what you can" basis.

"We listened to our community and realized that some needed help as they were either suffering financially, being furloughed or laid off, while others wanted to help support those who could not afford learning," said Joe Carella, assistant dean for Eller Executive Education. "Learning budgets are often the first thing to be cut during crises, and yet people need to continue to show that they are growing and spending time wisely."

The program is designed to help leaders better manage turbulent situations, such as those created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers areas including making decisions during times of complexity and chaos, how to communicate in a crisis and how to manage and motivate teams in a totally virtual workplace.

Carella says demand for the program has topped expectations, with more than 1,000 participants from around the world. He says about 30% of them have voluntarily paid more for the program to help financially support others wanting to take the class who could not pay as much.

MOOCs

With in-person entertainment options limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are taking the opportunity to learn something new through massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Christopher Impey, University Distinguished Professor of astronomy, is among the University of Arizona faculty members who have found success in offering the not-for-credit courses for "free-choice learners."

"People taking these courses are doing it with the purest of intentions," Impey says. "They're not necessarily doing it to get a better job or to get a degree. They're just doing it because they're interested in the subject."

Among Impey's MOOCs is Astronomy: Exploring Time and Space. He says a recent surge drove up enrollment to 131,000 participants, with almost 10,000 of them currently active. The course features more than 20 hours of video content as well as assignments, quizzes and citizen science activities.

David Soren, Regents Professor of anthropology, also offers a MOOC. Roman Art and Archaeology has attracted more than 30,000 enrollees. The course, which provides an overview of the culture of ancient Rome, features over 70 videos, including some guest lectures.

Corporate Partner Benefits

Through the Arizona Online Corporate Initiative, the university partners with companies and other organizations to offer their employees access to a University of Arizona education on a flexible schedule. Approved corporate partners receive benefits that can include waived application fees, tuition reduction, a dedicated enrollment team, and marketing and promotional support for company management. Arizona Online is now extending those benefits to the immediate families of employees working for partner organizations.

"Uncertain times call for certain action," said Kara Aquilano Forney, executive director of the Arizona Online Corporate Initiative. "We wanted to do whatever we could to create something positive for our partners' employees and their families. By extending partnership benefits, we hope to further eliminate barriers to education for an even wider audience."

Arizona Online corporate partners include American Express, Geico, Banner Health and more than a dozen other companies, organizations and municipalities. More information on the Corporate Partner Initiative is available online.