The Learning Enhancement Center offers a broad yet cohesive range of services to support the success of our constituents across all academic colleges and departments. The Learning Enhancement Center incorporates traditional services, such as faculty professional development, multimedia production, instructional design, and training along with unconventional ones, such as the Think Center and Online at Southern Miss (formerly Eagle Learning Online). Visit the LEC Services page to find out more.
The University of Southern Mississippi has invested in faculty development to sustain and enrich academic quality for many years. The Learning Enhancement Center was preceded by the Instructional Media Unit and the Teaching Learning Resource Center. In 2001 the university was awarded funding through a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education in order to (1) increase access to educational equipment and (2) provide faculty with new training and development opportunities.
Demand for pedagogical support was growing among faculty at that time, and the administration recognized the need to sustain and expand faculty development services. Midway through the grant, the project was moved under the Office of the Provost and renamed the Learning Enhancement Center (LEC). The current organization emerged from that highly successful project, and permanent funding was secured at the completion of the grant. From that point forward, the LEC was no longer focused solely on educational technology, but was charged with supporting teaching and learning on a broader scale.
Among the most significant and effective projects led by the Learning Enhancement Center in the past five years are the Think Center and Eagle Learning Online (ELO), now Online at Southern Miss. In 2009 the administration appointed the Learning Enhancement Center Director to coordinate the planning, implementation and launch of additional fully online programs. The initiative began by defining strategies and systematic processes to select and build promising academic programs and grew into Eagle Learning Online. Since its inception, the ELO initiative has significantly expanded the potential student base; increased enrollment; improved student retention; and contributed to the university’s revenue stream. The results have surpassed original enrollment and revenue projections, and the project continues to grow to meet student and institutional needs.
Around the same time, Learning Enhancement Center personnel authored several grant proposals to benefit the university as a whole. Several of these resulted in external financial support, which were instrumental in launching university initiatives. In October 2009, one proposal succeeded in winning a competitive five-year grant award for almost $2 million from the U.S. Department of Education. This project, funded under the Title III Part A Strengthening Institutions Program, created a Think Center to enrich the student experience and encourage student engagement to learning. The Think Center works with undergraduate students to help them understand their individual cognitive processes and to facilitate exploration of potential learning solutions. Faculty who are interested in evaluating teaching strategies have opportunities to develop new approaches. Two learning spaces are available as prototypes for Think Center members to experiment with flexible, collaborative learning environments and others are being developed on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.
Many projects are underway today and more are on the horizon. The Learning Enhancement Center enthusiastically embraces its commitment to provide essential academic support and to positively impact student success and faculty achievement.