Eagle Learning Online Course Development
Request for Proposal (RFP)

Purpose (click to expand)

The University of Southern Mississippi has made a strong commitment to the strategic development of quality online programs and courses consistent with the institutional mission and strategic plan for the University.

The University recognizes that online learning provides access for learners across the state, region, and nation who might not otherwise be able to attend traditional classroom courses and programs.  The University also recognizes that successful online courses require an overall strategic vision as well as a coordinated effort and quality support across the institution.   This RFP process represents a significant component of the University strategy for online learning by providing additional support to develop exemplary online courses that are of high-quality, engage learners, increase access to the general education curriculum, and have potential for attracting new online learners.  Significant support and expertise will be provided to participating departments to ensure success with development of the selected online courses.  The institutional goals for this project include the following:

  • Attract new students to the University and/or increase retention of learners currently enrolled
  • Create and maintain a high quality of educational experience in online courses and programs
  • Ensure consistency in the e-learning course environment as experienced by students already enrolled in the University
  • Increase access to GEC online classes delivered by The University of Southern Mississippi faculty
  • Support the coordinated effort of online course development campus-wide

Summary (click to expand)

The University seeks proposals from academic departments for the development of model online courses with the goal to increase fully online offerings of the GEC. Program specific graduate courses will have special consideration as well. Academic and Graduate Council approval must have already been received or the department must commit to the process of academic governing bodies’ approval.

Fifteen (15) courses will be selected through the Request For Proposal [RFP] process to receive significant institutional support through a partnership with the Office of the Provost and the Learning Enhancement Center [LEC] including:

  • Instructional design and technology support to assist instructors with planning and implementing consistent, high-quality online course designs through utilization of the university approved template, best practices, and lessons learned
  • Providing faculty and the department stipends:
    • Payment will be dispersed with a $500 stipend to the faculty member upon initial development of the course
    • $1000 to the faculty member upon offering and delivery of the course(s)
    • $500 stipend to the academic department upon offering and delivery of the course(s).
  • Departments and faculty receiving support under this RFP will agree to the following:
    • Work with the Learning Enhancement Center and be receptive to recommendations for providing consistent, high-quality course design (Note: course recommendations primarily address presentation, organization, and delivery of material; faculty are the subject matter experts in all areas of course content and the LEC will act only in the role of support and training).
    • Participating faculty will be expected to complete training pertaining to online pedagogy, best practices, and Blackboard Learn, and to invest time in development of their courses using university approved templates and standards.
    • Specific training details are outlined in faculty and department agreements, which will be provided upon selection of courses to participate in the initiative.

Courses accepted into the online development program will begin work in Spring 2014 for a launch target date of the Fall 2014 or Spring 2015 semester.

Proposal Procedure (click to expand)

Interested faculty and the department chairs may consult with Sheri Rawls, Director of the Learning Enhancement Center, prior to submission of a proposal.

In order to create an effective plan for development and implementation, complete proposals will include the items below and may be submitted as a Word document or PDF:

  1. Name of the department and course(s)
  2. Description of the course, credit hours, and course number
  3. Provide approval documentation from Academic or Graduate Council; or, upon selection to participate, submit course to the appropriate council for approval as soon as possible.
  4. Two year, historical enrollment summary for the designated course
  5. Discussion and data supporting the need for the course in an online format
  6. Faculty member who will serve as course developer and content expert.  Please indicate if there will be more than one faculty member working on development of this course
  7. Complete statement agreeing to the following:
    1. All participating faculty will complete the work required for a course launch by Fall 2014 or Spring 2015 (depending on when the course is to be offered again)
    2. All courses in the initiative will use the University learning management system, Blackboard Learn.  LEC staff are aware faculty may utilize third party materials in course development and a LEC staff member will assist faculty with integrating those materials into the course template.
    3. All courses will employ the university approved template to give each course a consistent look and feel and to improve navigability of each course.
    4. All courses developed will follow recommended standards and best practices for course quality and design.
    5. All courses will be delivered completely online and may include the use of proctored tests that meet the definition for online delivery.
    6. All courses will comply with recommendations for accessibility as defined by Federal Section 508 Standards.
    7. All faculty teaching and developing online courses in this program will complete required faculty development for e-learning.
  8. Statements of support from the department chair and dean.

Criteria (click to expand)

Proposals will be evaluated by the selection committee based on the following criteria:

  1. Provide approval documentation from Academic or Graduate Council; or, upon selection to participate, submit course to the appropriate council for approval as soon as possible.
  2. Confirmed departmental and college support, including a supportive and engaged faculty.
  3. Statement of agreement to items listed in items 1-7 of the Proposal Procedure.
  4. Faculty resources for continued support and delivery of the online course(s).
  5. Completion all application materials and demonstrated the degree to which the proposal aligns with the project goals.
  6. Courses carrying three hours or more of credit, taught according to university approved semester time frames, and delivered fully online.
  7. Course proposals that demonstrate a commitment to teaching excellence through creative, innovative, and engaging uses of online teaching technologies.
  8. Note that GEC courses will be given extra consideration.


Completed proposals should be submitted through the online proposal submission form no later than Monday, December 16, 2013.


For any additional questions please contact the Learning Enhancement Center at 601-266-5518 or email Sheri Rawls at sheri.rawls@usm.edu. Please allow sufficient time for a response.