September 1, 2020

Vera inspires faculty to explore online options

Partnership with ODE paves the way to boosting quality, engagement

CU Denver's Business School has expanded its online courses.

Adapting or creating an online course can often be daunting: It takes up to a year to plan and execute a course with CU Online. But Emily Vera, director of online programs in the Business School at CU Denver, and the Office of Digital Education (ODE) have inspired more faculty to try it out leading up to the fall 2020 semester.

“Faculty deliver a high standard of courses for our students and wanted to ensure the online courses would meet the same standard,” said Vera, a senior instructor. “In our partnership with ODE, faculty have come around to see that online courses can be developed and delivered with the same quality our students have come to expect.”

Vera, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting at CU Denver, said interested faculty take an eight-week Online Skills Mastery course, work with instructional designers, develop a course map, and determine outcomes that are meaningful and relatable for students.

The effort is paying off: CU Denver business courses have been carefully designed to these high standards and show positive and promising enrollment numbers.

Emily Vera

Emily Vera

“We are very excited to be partnering with the ODE on the online effort,” said Ronald Ramirez, the Business School’s Associate Dean of Programs. “Our faculty are energized around the new online programs and Emily has provided great leadership. Our Fall enrollment numbers for the new online programs look very strong.”

An instructor at the Business School going on 15 years, Vera has served as director of online programs for the past year preparing for the fall 2020 courses launch. She said the online initiative at first explored several programs – some already online and some not – then went through the process of optimizing them in accordance with the ODE’s recommendations, and also changed them to eight-week courses versus 16 weeks—a strategy that aligns with preferences among online students and one that allows them greater flexibility.  

“When I first started, I worked with the disciplines to gather information and details about each program,” she said. “Once we confirmed the different programs that we would be launching this fall, we went through a process of creating the course delivery models.”

This fall, when she’s not overseeing the launch of the fully online, eight-week programs, she’ll be teaching two required business courses: Financial Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis and Managerial Accounting and Professional Accounting Issues.

Vera became involved in online learning in the Business School 12 years ago. “Over time, I have become really passionate about online learning,” she said. “It fits a certain niche for students that may not be able to come to campus, or oftentimes I have students that are uncomfortable coming to campus for various reasons.”

She believes the future looks bright for CU Online and the CU Denver Business School’s contributions to online education. “It would be really wonderful for the Business School’s online programs to be nationally recognized,” she said. “It would be great to see our online MBA be one of the top in the country.”

Vera praised the Office of Digital Education team for raising the profile and standards of online learning.

“Working with the Office of Digital Education has been wonderful,” she said. “Their methods are very thorough on everything from start to finish, and faculty have been really impressed with their process and the detail that goes into it and their passion for making the quality excellent.”