NU Advance is the University of Nebraska’s delivery platform for non-credit courses. Learners do not have to be University of Nebraska for-credit students in order to take courses through NU Advance. This allows instructors to reach adult professionals, lifelong learners and other students who are seeking to benefit from many different types of learning opportunities. Courses can be designed for learners to earn certificates and digital badges, or simply to provide learning opportunities in areas of personal enrichment or interest.
How does it work?
To deliver content, NU Advance uses Canvas, the same technology used in the university’s for-credit offerings. Course registrations are made available to non-credit students via Catalog, another Instructure product. University-based instructors utilize their campus credentials to access NU Advance. Learners register for and access courses through Catalog using an email address.
What are the unique benefits?
NU Advance offers a robust portfolio of non-credit offerings that strengthen NU’s responsiveness to the needs of the workforce in the state of Nebraska and beyond:
- It is a single delivery platform for non-credit programming for all four campuses of the University of Nebraska system, while still using the familiar Canvas learning management system.
- It is a timely, easy and cost-effective way to reach learners from a wide variety of interest groups and organizations.
- Learners who are not University of Nebraska students can benefit from learning opportunities offered by university experts.
- Instructors can set up a non-credit course to be available only to a defined audience and/or set up a listing that is available on the NU Advance public page.
- Instructors and learners can benefit from course schedules that are not tied to the traditional academic calendar. For example, a course may last for a few days, longer than a traditional semester, or be offered entirely on a self-paced, on-demand basis.
- The public NU Advance home page provides users with a searchable course index, course descriptions and the ability to register for non-credit course offerings.
- Courses can offer certificates or digital badges/micro-credentials
- NOTE: Only non-credit courses are eligible for a digital badge through NU Advance. To offer a non-credit badge, a course must be offered through NU Advance.
What about costs and enrollment fees?
- There is a standard per/enrollment fee for an NU Advance course. However, the costs can vary depending on the requirements and complexity of the request.
- If an instructor or program prefers to offer an NU Advance course to students free of charge, a grant or other funding source can cover NU Advance fees.
- Instructors can also generate revenue (or simply cover NU Advance fees) by designating an enrollment fee to students.
- For courses that charge students an enrollment fee, Catalog allows students to pay using a credit card or bank account.
The NU Advance fee, which is determined by the features required in the course plus any campus-specific fees (when applicable), supports the necessary software, technical and administrative/finance infrastructure. Again, fees can be passed on to registrants, paid by a college or program, or through paid via external grant funding.
*The NU Advance fee can be less than the standard amount if a course meets certain requirements; see below for additional details. Campuses can also designate additional fees for non-credit courses. Please contact your campus liaison for additional information. Resource needs and costs are evaluated annually and could result in a higher or lower amount as needed.
Course features (requiring support from the NU Advance team) that indicate the standard enrollment fee is applicable for a course:
Features of a course that might qualify for a reduced NU Advance fee:
*Custom, non-standard configurations may generate additional expenses
*Basically, a course that will be used once, with relatively little change and requiring minimal administrative/technical support from the NU Advance team, may qualify for a reduced fee.
Steps before submitting a course request for NU Advance:
- Identify a department or university unit to approve/sponsor the course.
- A cost object must be identified before a course request is made. NU Advance course fees are withdrawn and/or revenues deposited from/to this cost center.
- The sponsoring entity (typically a department chair or director) must approve any NU Advance course request.
- Review the course request form (see below for link); make sure to read the steps in detail before submitting.
What is the timeline & process for the creation of a course?
- A course request needs to be submitted at least several weeks before a course is scheduled to be available to students.
- The campus approval process can involve several people; instructors should allow at least a week for this approval process to complete.
- Once a request is approved, it will be received by the NU Advance team.
- Depending on your campus and your course, an instructor will probably receive an additional form that captures the specific requirements for the course’s configuration/options.
- Once the request is processed, an empty course shell will be created in NU Advance.
- Instructors should allow several days for the course shell and listing to be created and made available.
- Once the course shell is created, the NU Advance team will make the course available to the instructor(s) via an email notification.
- Note: an existing course can be migrated - depending on the course itself - from another source. This should be specified in the original NU Advance course request.
- When developing a course, instructors should adhere to required guidelines for accessibility and effective course design, including campus-specific guidelines. A template is available.
- Instructors should also allow themselves several days to create their course content, especially if they are not familiar with NU Advance. (Please refer to the Canvas Quick Start guide, linked below).
- If an instructor requires support in developing the course itself (instructional design, content or Canvas), instructors should contact their campus liaison and/or a campus-specific instructional design team.
- Once a course’s content is ready and has been published by the instructor, the NU Advance team will provide the instructor with the registration link and/or a public listing for the course.
- It is generally recommended that an NU Advance course instructor has finished developing the content and published the course before requesting a registration link/listing.
- Instructors will provide the NU Advance course registration link/listing to students, which they will use to register for the course.
- It is strongly recommended that instructors provide their students with instructions for enrolling in an NU Advance course (see below for additional resources).
- (Students can register for a course before it is published. However, if the course is published, students will be able enroll and access the course at the same time. If the course is not published at the time students enroll, they will have to wait to access the course itself.)
How can an instructor minimize processing/approval time for an NU Advance course request?
- Processing time will vary depending on the approval process at your campus, the number of course requests in queue and the complexity of the course’s requirements. However, there are some ways to help speed up processing time:
- Discuss the course (and, ideally, obtain unofficial approval) from your campus sponsor before initiating a formal course request.
- Wait to submit your course request until you’ve defined your requirements. You’ll need to provide detailed information, including a cost center and complete course details.
- Complete the course request carefully; any changes to the requirements once the request is submitted will likely cause delays in the approval and/or creation process.
For an NU Advance course, which elements is an instructor responsible for and where does the NU Advance team/campus liaison provide support?
- For all questions related to course content, contact your campus liaison (see below).
- If an instructor is migrating content from a campus instance of Canvas to NU Advance, the NU Advance team can help.
- However, an instructor may want to review an existing course for content that was created using campus-specific apps that may not be available in NU Advance.
- Instructors provide the registration link/listing to their students. Students should contact their instructor with questions about an NU Advance course.
- Instructors should contact the NU Advance team for technical support regarding the course listing, Catalog or the enrollment process.
- The NU Advance team is available for technical support to instructors M-F from 8 AM to 5 PM.
- For questions related to instructional design or the content, an instructor should contact their campus liaison or their team.
A breakdown of where to find support:
From the NU Advance team:
From the instructor/campus:
How do students enroll in an NU Advance course?
Instructors can copy and paste the following instructions when they make a course listing/registration link available to students:
New Users – How do I enroll in an NU Advance course?
- You can enroll in a course by viewing the details of the course listing and clicking ENROLL.
- If you enroll in a course that requires payment, it is required as part of the enrollment process.
- When you have completed your course enrollment, a confirmation email will be sent to you to complete the registration process.
- You will create a password for your NU Advance account. Each time you login to connect.nebraska.edu, you will use these credentials.
- You can view and begin the course from your Dashboard.
Existing Users – How do you sign-in to an NU Advance course?
- Go to connect.nebraska.edu and tap on LOGIN
- Enter your NU Advance email address and password that you specified when creating your NU Advance (formerly NU Connect) account.
How instructors should communicate with their students
In both cases, an instructor will probably want to explain to students whether the course will be accessible as soon as they enroll. This will depend on whether an instructor has published the course at the time they’ve provided the link to students (recommended) and if the course itself has defined start/end dates, or a timeframe of availability for each enrollee, such as for a self-paced course with a defined number of days/weeks/months allowed for completion/access.
If an instructor cuts and pastes from these instructions, they will probably want to customize for their students.
How do I submit a course request or what if I have other questions?
Consult with your campus liaison to request an NU Advance course. For more information about getting started, contact your primary approver/liaison and/or the NU Advance team:
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Dr. Mark Ellis, Dean Graduate Studies
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Renee Batman, Assistant Vice Chancellor & Chief Administrative Officer
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Ana Lopez Shalla
University of Nebraska System
Justin Cavanaugh, Assistant Director, University of Nebraska Online
University of Nebraska Medical Center