Online education providers join forces to one platform

online-platform The new online education platform with courses from top-ranked universities will be available to students for college credit starting in autumn 2013. Semester Online, the partnership between a consortium of schools and the online education provider 2U Inc. will deliver university-accredited courses through a virtual classroom environment. Universities involved in this project are: Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Students who attend consortium schools and other top schools across the country can take courses through the platform. This is the first venture 2U’s in the undergraduate space where the online provider has partnered with graduate schools since its founding in 2008. (Graduate programs are also offered through 2U include USC Rossier Online, or Nursing@Georgetown. Chip Paucek, co-founder, and CEO of 2U says that the look and feel of the new undergraduate courses will be similar to the site’s current graduate offerings. This initiative will be defined by its rigor. High-quality courses with intense, small class size. When one uses the platform, it is a very intimate process which will bring benefit for online students and will be well practiced by the online professors. All courses at 2U are like standard online courses: asynchronous content, pre-recorded lectures and reading materials provided by a university professor for students to review each week. The difference is that the students are required to attend a virtual classroom at a scheduled time once a week. The difference in this online courses is the fact that the student has to attend the online class with his mate. When the student is in the class, the professor is in one square, and the rest of the students are in other squares, Paucek explains. Peter Lange, Provost, Duke University, states that Duke has partnered with Coursera and 2U. He says that they have been very open to experimenting with different ways of online learning to improve the on-campus teaching and learning. Coursera has allowed Duke faculty members to expand their courses to a wider audience, but they have not sold on the “fully online” experience”. They did not believe that the fully asynchronous, no face-to-face aspect was going to be a format that would be particularly attractive to them and has decided to go for this platform. There’s a whole lot of interaction you can’t do in an asynchronous course. Weekly “in-class” video component of 2U’s Semester Online, is what ultimately enticed the institution to enter the consortium. The schools offering those courses are very high-quality schools in which high degree of confidence in the faculty exists. The official launching is months away, and the specific courses will be determined soon. The expenses of each course are being evaluated. Paucek says that the online courses will be “slightly less” expensive than its in-class counterparts. In a Semester Online course, there are fixed costs that need to be paid with a course, every time that you teach it. Being a high-quality operation offering ultimate experience of distance learning, it is expected that it will fully justify the expectations. More info at: Duke University: Duke to Offer Online Courses for Credit
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