As the premier open-access public online learning institution in the nation, UMUC is working with a growing number of students who are either priced out of the market or not well served by current traditional educational institutions.

The Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success is a laboratory for continuous improvements to the university's instruction of curriculum, learning models, and student support to

  • Identify promising innovations for underserved populations in adult higher education
  • Drive adoption of next-generation transformational online learning
  • Develop new educational models based on learning science, cutting-edge technology, and improved instructional methods
  • Help more UMUC adult students succeed by increasing retention and graduating more students in shorter time frames (thus reducing their costs)

Research and development arm of UMUC

Leveraging technology and pedagogy in innovative ways is key to the center's work. CILSS serves as the research and development arm for the university, promoting innovative ideas and breakthroughs in learning. The center monitors research and developments in areas related to supporting student success, such as adaptive learning, social computing, gaming and virtual models, mobile and ubiquitous computing, open education, learning analytics, and semantic and natural language technologies.

Particular areas of focus include

  • New models for diagnostics that assess students' skills and readiness for college
  • Program designs that emphasize learning by doing
  • Adaptive learning course designs
  • Methods for competency-based education

Collaboration is key

Faculty, administrators, and staff serve as collaborators and research designers on demonstration projects. As new technologies or instructional methods are found to boost learning outcomes, attention will shift to broad and rapid implementation. While the center is clearly focused on improving the educational outcomes for students, it is also addressing cost issues so that higher education becomes more affordable.

Meet the CILSS Staff

The leadership and staff of the Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success possess unparalleled experience and knowledge in

  • Research-based design, development, and assessment of innovative learning designs
  • Selection, application and integration of learning technologies
  • Onboarding, training, and development
  • Project management and logistics
  • Design and delivery of student success models and programs
  • Environmental scanning
  • Research and information analysis and reporting

This deep level of expertise brings a unique level of rigor to the center's efforts.

Please direct inquiries to Latisha Neil at or 240-684-2704.

Cristi Ford

Cristi Ford, PhD

Associate Provost, Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success

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Kate Ford

Kate Ford

Director, Information and Research Analysis, Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success

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Darragh McNally

Darragh McNally, PhD

Research Analyst, Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success

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Latisha Neil

Latisha Neil

Executive Administrative Assistant II

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Advisory Board

The center is in the process of establishing an external advisory board made up of leaders in education, educational technology, social media, and other areas relevant to innovation in higher education. The board will provide input and review of CILSS pilot and demonstration projects.