It’s been an edX world for at least a few months and the new kid on the block has just been unveiled. Duke, UNC, Northwestern and more than half a dozen other schools have formed a consortium called Semester Online. It’s quite a bit different from edX and it’ll be very interesting to see if Semester Online becomes a bigger deal than edX.
10 Key Features Of Semester Online
It’s well known that edX is not for course credit and doesn’t require tuition. The exact opposite is true of Semester Online. Here’s the key features (and differences) courtesy of this morning’s New York Times and NBC News coverage:
- Semester Online will be operated through the educational platform 2U, formerly known as 2tor.
- Students will be able to take courses for-credit but they will not be able to earn a full Bachelor’s degree.
- Students will be able to raise their hands virtually, break into smaller discussion groups and arrange and hold online study sessions.
- According to the NYTimes, the virtual classroom is a cross between a Google+ hangout and the opening sequence of “The Brady Bunch,” where each student has his or her own square, the equivalent of a classroom chair. However, with Semester Online courses, there is no sneaking in late and unnoticed, and there is no back row.
- Participating schools include Brandeis, Duke, Emory, Northwestern, UNC Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Washington University in St. Louis. There’s more space available in the Semester Online website so it would appear that more schools will be added in the future.
- It’s about as close to an in-person classroom experience as you can get.
- The program(s) start next fall.
- About 30 online courses in a range of subjects including the social sciences, arts and humanities, science, mathematics and business.will be offered to both enrolled students (at no added expense or tuition raise) as well as to online students who would have to apply and be accepted and pay tuition of more than $4,000 a course. Financial aid from students’ own school will carry over in most cases.
- Courses will be taught by university faculty following the same curricula used in conventional courses and with conventional techniques such as class discussions
- Courses will use technology that allows students and professors to see and talk with one another in real time.
- Students will be graded on their work by faculty and earn college credit if they get passing grades.
More About Semester Online
Semester Online is the first-of-its-kind program to offer rigorous, online, for-credit undergraduate courses through a consortium of top-tier colleges and universities. The program will be delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, formerly known as 2tor.
Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Students will experience a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, including live class sessions that connect students and renowned professors; compelling, richly produced, self-paced course materials; and a strong social network that allows students to collaborate and build relationships online.
Students will have the chance to take advantage of unique course offerings from some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, courses they would not otherwise have access to. They will be able to work, travel, participate in off-campus research programs or manage personal commitments that in the past would have meant putting their studies on hold.
Beginning in the fall of 2013, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country. Additional information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013. -SemesterOnline.org