Northwestern Univesity and nine other schools announced plans today to launch a new, innovative program they say will transform the model of online education.
The new online education program, Semester Online, will be the first of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous online courses for credit from a consortium of universities.
The program is delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, formerly known as 2tor.
Other schools in the consortium are Brandeis, Duke, Emory, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Rochester, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington University in St. Louis.
Beginning next fall, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country.
Information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available early next year. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions prior to next year’s launch.
Initial Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with additional courses designed for the online format to be included in the future.
Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors—as close to the on-campus class experience as is currently possible online.
“Online education is an important and impactful extension of our academic offering,” said Ed Macias, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs of Washington University in St. Louis and catalyst for organizing the consortium. “The challenge has been developing a web-based program that mirrors the richness and robustness of the in-classroom experience and applies credit toward earning a degree. Semester Online does just that. The program will be a significant step forward.”
"Students from all over the country, or even from abroad, will be able to attend these online classes in real time—classes of about 15 to 20 students taught by professors at some of the nation’s leading universities," said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern University provost. “These courses will expand curricular options for students and will enable consortium schools to work collaboratively to develop the most innovative and successful ways to utilize new learning technologies."\
The consortium is partnering with 2U to deliver the classes.
Semester Online will feature many of the same elements that 2U offers its master’s degree program partners, including live class sessions that connect students and professors, self-paced course materials and a strong social network that allows students to connect and build relationships with peers online.