Michigan Virtual University Case Study

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Profile
Michigan Virtual University® (MVU) was established by the State of Michigan to serve as a champion for online learning. MVU is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) Michigan corporation and is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of individuals representing business, industry, higher education, K-12 education and state government. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual SchoolTM (MVS) and Michigan LearnPort®, an online professional development portal.

MVS is accredited by the North Central Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA) and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA). Since its inception, the MVS has supported more than 50,000 student course enrollments.

Challenge
MVU was having great success with Michigan Virtual SchoolTM, but they were ready to launch a new project. MVU wanted to provide Michigan’s teachers and administrators with professional development online courses through what is now Michigan LearnPort®. To bring this initiative to fruition, MVU hired David Myers, Executive Director, Michigan LearnPort®.

Since MVU receives federal funds, they must create courses that are accessible by people with disabilities. MVU wanted to create courses for teachers and administrators that were engaging, innovative and appealing. To keep courses interesting and accessible, MVU needed to use a strong authoring tool that could incorporate audio, video, images, Flash and work with screen readers. MVU also required a tool that could create courses that used advanced branching and tracking capabilities for the user.

Solution
Myers brought Lectora on board with him when joining MVU’s Michigan LearnPort®. From previous professional experiences, Myers knew how versatile Lectora was, especially when complex course creation was needed. Others within his team such as the instructional designers on staff quickly realized the benefits of using Lectora and found it to be very flexible and robust.

“Lectora’s versatility far exceeds its competitors.”

Prior to Lectora, MVU also had other tools in place. Myers found that these tools, however, lacked the strength and versatility that Lectora offers. “Other tools couldn’t create the complex branching and tracking that MVU needs to produce engaging courses that the users could easily follow,” said Myers. “Lectora’s versatility far exceeds its competitors.”

Results
To date, MVU has created more than 30 courses with Lectora which are each 10-35 hours in length. All courses include video, audio and interactive Flash as well as content that is easily read by screen readers. There are currently over 45,000 registered users in Michigan LearnPort® taking free courses on a range of topics.

Myers and his team is most impressed with the flexibility and advanced features within Lectora which enable them to create powerful and engaging content, unlike other authoring tools. “Once you become comfortable with Lectora, you can do just about anything you want with the tool,” said Myers. “It provides so many options that other tools on the market don’t offer, yet doesn’t require the need to be a programmer or HTML expert.”

MVU can create advanced functionality like tracking and breadcrumb capabilities that allow the user to track where they are within a course and where they have been.

Myers also likes Lectora’s easy functionality of editing text, launching documents and dropping in audio, video, and Flash. “You can use just about any file type with Lectora,” said Myers. “To jazz up a course you can simply drag and drop files of your choice straight into Lectora or you can use the multitude of features available within the product.”

“If we didn’t have Lectora, the development of courses of this caliber would have to be contracted out to costly custom development shops and created by expensive programmers.”

In addition to the flexibility of Lectora, Myers also knew he made the right choice when it comes to cost. “If we didn’t have Lectora, the development of courses of this caliber would have to be contracted out to costly custom development shops and created by expensive programmers. By using Lectora, we are able to save money by creating courses in-house,” said Myers.