Frequently Asked Questions

On this page you will find answers to commonly asked questions about the Online Learning Advancement Fund (OLAF). Topics include eligibility, proposal development, available support and more. If you have questions not answered here, please email olaf.admin@ubc.ca.

General:

Q: What’s the difference between the OLAF and the TLEF?

A: UBC has committed to investing $500,000 annually to support the Online Learning Advancement Fund. While the TLEF has a very broad mandate, OLAF is more focused with a goal to support the development of new online learning experiences to be offered by academic units. In addition, OLAF funding may be used to support professional and non-credit learning opportunities, which are typically not fundable under TLEF guidelines.

Q: Can I apply for funding from multiple sources (e.g. OLAF and TLEF)?

A: Yes, if your project is eligible for both funding sources unless the projects look like they are double dipping. Preference will be given to projects who have not received other funding.

Q: I have an idea, but need time to flesh out the details. Should I apply this year or wait until next year?

A: Proposals that are more fully conceptualized and substantiated, with Faculty support will have a better chance of being funded. If you feel you need more time for industry/market consultation and approval from your Faculty, we suggest waiting until the next OLAF cycle.

Eligibility:

Q: Who can submit a letter of intent (LOI)?

A: Tenure-track or tenured faculty members are generally preferred as the primary applicants with written approval from a faculty Department Head or Associate Dean. However, co-applicants may include faculty in appointments without review, lecturers, students, staff and external partners. Lecturers with appointments beyond the timescale of the project are also eligible to be a primary applicant.

Q: What if I’m not a tenure track or tenured faculty member?

A: Project teams must include at least one faculty member who is tenured, tenure track or holds a lecturer appointment. Please submit your proposal with this person listed as the primary applicant.

Q: I have an idea but I don’t know if it is eligible or possible. Who can I ask?

A: You can email us at olaf.admin@ubc.ca or attend one of the information and drop-in consultation sessions. Please sign up for the OLAF newsletter to be alerted when drop-in sessions are scheduled.

Q: What types of projects are eligible?

A: The proposed offering must be either 100% online, or comprised of mostly online learning with limited on-campus or in-person components (e.g. initial orientation / cohort building sessions, fieldwork or field trips, or in-person course activities such as guest speakers, networking events, student presentations, group project work, capstone presentations, etc).

Learning opportunities can include: degree programs, certificate programs, non-credit professional certificates or microcredentials, and credit or non-credit course course sequence or series.

Please refer to the OLAF Principles, Scope and Criteria for more information.

Q: Are cross-faculty projects eligible to apply?

A. Yes, we encourage multi-faculty projects, as long as the project has the support of each faculty’s leadership.

Q: My unit has an active OLAF project, can we apply for another one this year?

A: Yes. However, the new proposal must be substantially different from the active project. Please note that, because one of the goals of this initiative is to build capacity, the OLAF adjudication committee will give preference to units without active projects.

Q: Can faculty/units from UBCO apply?

A: No, the funding is awarded from the UBCV Provost Office.

LOI and Proposal Development:

Q. What support is available for LOI development?

Based on the OLAF team’s capacity, we can assist you with preliminary market research, program concept development and early planning.

Q: What support is available to propopents invited to develop full proposals?

A: Proponents who are successful in the letter of intent stage will receive support as they develop a full proposal, based on capacity. This support includes:

  • Budget planning
  • Curriculum consultation
  • Evaluation consultation
  • Market research/analysis
  • Program architecture consultation
  • Proposal review and feedback
  • Value proposition development

Q: What support is provided without charge to successful proposals?

A. The OLAF team (comprised of Extended Learning Program Development Unit and CTLT Curriculum and Course Services) are central resources for faculty and staff, and offer a broad range of expertise and services, including:

  • Budget planning
  • Course design assistance
  • Curriculum consultation
  • Evaluation consultation
  • Implementation support
  • Learning tools consultation
  • Market research and analysis, including assistance with student / stakeholder / employer surveys and consultations
  • Marketing strategy and take-to-market plans
  • Media development
  • Program architecture consultation, business planning and positioning
  • Project management support

Please note: these services are only available through the first offering of the program/course including an opportunity for evaluation, and are subject to capacity. After the offering of the program, ongoing support can be provided in a fee-for-service model.

Q: How will OLAF LOIs and proposals be evaluated? Who assesses the proposals?

A. OLAF LOI’s and proposals will be reviewed by an OLAF Adjudication committee based upon the following criteria:

  • The LOI and proposal provides a clear rationale, methodology, and objectives that align with the OLAF scope and UBC’s Strategic Plan as well as the units/department/school/faculty goals and capabilities.
  • The LOI and proposal articulates project outcomes that are well defined and achievable.
  • The LOI and proposal demonstrates evidence of demand for the proposal from students or the market.
  • The proposal outlines how this project will build the capacity for online learning within the department/school/faculty.
  • The proposal provides evidence of consultation with stakeholders in the Faculty and University who will be involved in supporting the project (this consultation is essential in projects that involve curriculum or learning technology development).
  • The proposal provides a sustainment plan for project activities, with attention to how the project will be sustained beyond the OLAF funding window. For multi-year projects, an interim report will need to be completed after year 1 to release year 2 funding.
  • The proposal provides an evaluation plan complete with outcomes-based criteria that will be used to determine the project’s success/impact, as well as the methods by which data will be collected and evaluated.
  • The proposal describes how students were consulted in the preparation of the proposal, and how students will be involved in the development and implementation of the project.

Q: When will you let the successful applicants know if their letter of intent is successful? When will funding be available?

A: See key dates for details.

Funding:

Q: How much funding can I ask for?

A: The maximum funding amounts per project will be announced as part of the annual call for proposals. Second-year funding is subject to review of a brief report on the program’s progress at the end of year one.

Q. How can I use OLAF funding?

A. Funding must be used toward project development, not delivery. Funding may be used to support course release, if departments provide matching funds. Generally, OLAF funding may not be used for the following (list is not exhaustive)*:

  • Equipment purchases such as laptops
  • Catering
  • Marketing hard costs ( e.g. promotional videos, agency fees, web development)
  • Room rentals

*These restrictions may be waived for projects with unique needs. For additional information regarding eligible expenses, please contact olaf.admin@ubc.ca.

Q. What happens if we don’t use all of the money granted to our project?

A: Proponents are strongly encouraged to complete projects within the planned time frame. In the event of unforeseen challenges, proponents may be given an extension to complete outstanding work. All unused funds will need to be returned when the project closes.