Online Course Development Grants

Important Notice: EI Online Course Development Grant are no longer being offered as of fall 2020. Visit the university’s new Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring for current instructional support opportunities.

Formalized in 2017, the campus Online Learning Initiative offers faculty and instructors the opportunity to apply for Online Course Development Grants to support the development of online courses taught in any term (fall, spring or summer). An annual call for proposals is announced each fall.

Award amounts are determined by the scope of the proposed work and finalized in the MOU process. (Grants typically do not exceed $15,000.) In addition to the funding, grant recipients receive tools, training and resources including in-kind support (paid for by central campus) from a designated instructional designer to assist with course design, development and production.

More information about the goals, proposal criteria, awardee commitments, timeline and how to submit a proposal can be found below.

Campus Goals for Online Learning

  • Advance excellence in teaching and learning through the Wisconsin Experience
  • Increase flexibility and options for residential (“traditional”) students to study online
  • Expand access and attract new groups of students to study at UW-Madison

Proposal Criteria

All proposals must:

  • Show clear departmental and school/college commitment – The course/program must be supported by its academic department and school or college, and directly align with the department’s long-term curricular plans. The academic department and the school/college is responsible for ensuring that the course/program is consistently offered and properly maintained for future terms (e.g., update materials, version control, continuous improvements, and technology enhancements). To ensure this coordination, proposals will be submitted to school/college dean offices for review and ranking.
  • Demonstrate student demand or fulfillment of an unmet curricular need – This may include courses that are labelled as: high-enrollment, bottleneck, gateway or wait-listed.
  • Articulate student learning outcomes – Every course/program must have student learning outcomes. Grant recipients will work with instructional designers to develop and/or review these outcomes, and ensure they are stated in a course syllabus and supported by a plan for assessing student learning.

Awardee Responsibilities

Awardees will also be responsible for:

  • Collaborating with assigned instructional design team – Online design, development and production staff time and expertise is provided, in-kind, to awardees in addition to the total award amount. Instructional design staff work with instructors to achieve course development goals, align with instructional design standards, meet web accessibility standards, and comply with copyright policy. *Note: based upon experience, 50-100 hours is the average amount of time instructors spend to develop an online course that meets web-based instructional standards. Additional time will be required to participate in relevant training, as needed (see below).
  • Participating in online course design and facilitation sessions – Awardees who have not previously participated in: TeachOnline@UW, Blend@UW or the Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence (MTLE) program, are given the opportunity to participate in online design and facilitation sessions (no more than 20 hours over the course of a calendar year).

Funding and Support Details

The total amount of each grant is determined by the scope of the proposed work upon review with an instructional designer and finalized in the MOU process. (Grants typically do not exceed $15,000.) As such, applicants do not need to include a budget in their proposals.Funds are awarded to the respective school/college as a one-time lump-sum, and can be used for salary, and supplies and expenses (S&E). It is the expectation that the department/school/college will be responsible for supporting the ongoing, online delivery of the course(s) into future terms.

In addition to the grant funds, awardees receive tools, training and resources including in-kind support (paid for by central campus) from a designated instructional designer to assist with course design, development and production.

Submit a Proposal

The deadline to submit proposals for 2019-20 has passed. Proposals were due by midnight on Monday, October 28, 2019.

Individuals or units who are unable to submit proposals during the annual open call can submit a proposal at any time through the Online Learning Initiative’s open submission process. (Note: No immediate funding is available for this option, and proposals will only be considered for courses that plan to launch summer 2021 or after) .

2019-20 Approval Process and Timeline


  • Monday, October 28 – Proposals due (and subsequently sent to respective associate deans for review and ranking)
  • Week of November 11 – Applicants of select proposals invited to advance and meet with assigned instructional and/or curricular designers
  • Early December – Committee reviews and recommends select proposals for funding.
  • Week of December 16 – Award notifications sent

2020 and Beyond

  • Early January – MOUs with grant recipients finalized
  • Fall/Spring 2020-21 – Course development begins, award funds transferred accordingly
  • Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022 – Course launch