The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to Penn State in support of its World Campus -- a "virtual campus" that provides a distance learning environment in which students obtain a Penn State education through information technology, regardless of their time zone or continent.
In 1997 the foundation first awarded a $1.3 million grant to Penn State to help launch the World Campus. The new grant will help Penn State continue its leadership in asynchronous learning networks (ALN). ALNs provide access to learners who can't attend traditional classes because of their locations, family and job commitments. Through the use of the Internet and other technologies, ALNs present course content, provide students with access to learning resources, and create a highly interactive learning community.
According to Frank Mayadas, foundation program manager, the foundation has provided 130 grants totaling $30 million to more than 60 institutions over the last five years for ALN projects, including two at Penn State. The foundation is urging higher education to make the leap to distance learning on a large scale.
The World Campus is now completing its first full year of operation, offering an initial 33 courses in 11 certificate and degree programs. More than 700 students from across the United States and eight countries on four continents have been admitted into World Campus programs. In five years University officials expect to have 10,000 people enrolled in 30 degree and certificate programs.
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