ION | Illinois Online Network

Certified Online Learning Administrator Certificate

The Certified Online Learning Administrator (COLA)

The COLA program is a comprehensive professional development program that recognizes and certifies faculty, staff, and administrators who achieve a measurable level of knowledge related to online program support and administration.

Who Should Enroll in this Program

The COLA is designed for administrators and staff members interested in maximizing the strength and success of the online learning programs at their institutions.

Benefits of the Program

As colleges and universities build online learning programs, they often depend on staff members and academic professionals whose expertise and experience has not included significant distance learning roles. Individuals who complete the certificate program will understand the whole spectrum of factors that are involved in online learning program success.

Certificate Requirements

In order to earn the Certified Online Learning Administrator, a participant must successfully complete four core courses, one elective course, and the online learning administrator practicum. All core courses and the elective should be taken before beginning the Online Administration practicum

The core courses are:

  • AS - Administration Seminar (4 weeks)
  • QA - Quality Assurance and Accountability (8 weeks)
  • IS - Issues and Strategies in Faculty Training (8 weeks)
  • SS - Supporting Online Students (and supporting students online) (8 weeks)
  • The capstone course is:
  • AP - Online Administration Practicum (8 weeks)

Elective courses available at the present time include:

  • AO - Administration of Online Programs
  • AB - Advanced Blended/Hybrid Learning Design and Practice
  • BL - Blended –Hybrid Learning Design and Instruction
  • CR - Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues for Online Course Development
  • ID -  Instructional Design for Online Learning
  • SA - Student Assessment
  • GE - Global Elearning in Online Learning

The four core courses and the elective may be completed in any order, though we recommend taking the seminar early in your pursuit of the COLA. All five should be completed before beginning the Online Administration Practicum.

To earn the certificate, participants complete the required course work and demonstrate knowledge in the following areas related to online program administration:

  • Roles of faculty in online courses
  • Roles of students in online courses
  • Roles of institutional support professionals in online program success
  • Available technologies for delivering online courses
  • Faculty training models and processes
  • Evaluation of online courses and processes related to documentation of quality assurance processes

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The Online Administration Practicum

The Practicum is the final course in the certificate program. Practicum participants continue exploring topics and domains of administration that are vital to the success of an online learning program.

Receiving the Certificate for Online Learning Administration

After successfully completing the six COLA courses, participants will receive a certificate from the Illinois Online Network at the University of Illinois indicating that they are qualified as a Certified Online Learning Administrator. To earn the certificate, participants complete the four core courses, an elective course and successfully complete the Practicum. Even if you take all of the COLA MVCR classes for credit throught UIS, the COLA is still a non-credit certificate.

How to Enroll in the Certificate Program

There is no 'enrollment in the program' as there is with the Master Online Teacher certificate. Complete the courses. Earn the certificate. You will receive a digital COLA badge (online) and a framable certificate and recognition letter (postal service)

Course Registration Fees

Your course fee depends on the status of the institution where you are employed. Those on the faculty or staff of ION member institutions receive substantial discounts toward their course fees. Your affiliation is subject to verification by ION staff.

If you plan to pursue the entire Certified Online Learning Administrator certificate, contact ION ( for information about prepaying (optional) your full COLA registration fees.