Since its inception, the Kirwan Center has been supporting USM institutions in making strategic forays into online learning. “Online learning” in this context is defined as any learning environment that makes substantive use of a web-based component that enables collaboration and access to content beyond the classroom. Online learning strategies across the USM range from fully online degree/certificate programs, to MOOCs, to hybrid and "flipped" courses.
As part of this work, the Kirwan Center has launched a system-wide online learning strategic planning process to assist USM institutions in developing goals and approaches to online education and tapping new market segments. Additionally, in 2016, USM entered into a groundbreaking partnership with edX, the nonprofit online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT to increase global access to high-quality education. The agreement is designed to further increase access, affordability, and quality of higher education in Maryland and around the world. The partnership has launched USMx, free online courses offered by the University System of Maryland through the edX platform, and MicroMasters® Programs, free, non-credit master’s level courses, which can accelerate the pathway to an advanced degree and save students thousands of dollars in tuition and fees.