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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Univ to offer online classes with other elite schools

Published: November 16, 2012
Section: News

Brandeis next year will begin offering an online learning program as part of a collaborative effort with nine other leading national universities.

“Semester Online” aims to offer “rigorous online courses for credit from a consortium of universities,” according to BrandeisNOW. Private, for-profit education company, 2U, will be used to offer the virtual classrooms interactive interfaces.

“We are excited about joining this consortium of great universities,” Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren said.

Current Brandeis students will be able to participate in the program at its inception, she said.

“All courses will contain both asynchronous material and real-time virtual class meetings and we expect that courses offered by the consortium schools will meet Brandeis’ high academic standards,” she wrote in an email to The Hoot. “Thus, Brandeis students will have access to high quality, for-credit courses in a semester while they pursue off-campus research experiences, internships or dealing with personal commitments.”

Provost Steve Goldstein told BrandeisNOW the initiative was “an exciting step forward, not just for Brandeis but for higher education generally.” The universities collectively hope to “expand opportunities for students everywhere and will help us all gain experience and understanding of the broad potential of distance learning.”

Brandeis will partner with other elite universities Duke, Emory, Northwestern, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington University in St. Louis. The program has left open the possibility of adding a small number of other top colleges before the launch in next fall.

Semester Online aims to offer the same types of courses available at the participant schools and crucially with the same level of academic expectation.

According to BrandeisNOW, a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, will let students
“participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors,” professors who ordinarily teach at Duke, Northwestern or Brandeis.

Class information should be available by spring 2013, with the first enrolled students in the fall. According to Birren, the schools have not yet prepared any announcement for the costs.