Issue link: http://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/124472
technology Semester Online Offers Undergrads Choice, Flexibility The Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a member of a consortium of leading universities participating in Semester Online, a new program that will offer U.S. undergrad students the opportunity to take online, forcredit courses at any of the member schools. KenanFlagler is the only business school in the consortium. In addition to UNC, consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Other institutions could join the consortium before the program's launch this fall. Courses offered through Semester Online will be available to any academically qualified undergraduate student enrolled at any U.S. college or university. For students enrolled at consortium schools, the cost of the courses will be covered by their home school tuition. 62 May/June 2013 BizEd For other students, the cost is $4,000 per course, and they will need to apply and be accepted. The consortium has partnered with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, to offer classes through its virtual classroom and interactive platform. Limited to 20 students, each course will include live class sessions and discussions led by professors, self-paced course materials and exercises, and a social networking function that students can use to connect with classmates online. These courses will feature the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, although future courses may be designed specifically for online delivery. Kenan-Flagler already offers its MBA@UNC online MBA program through 2U, so joining the consortium makes sense, says Susan Cates, executive director of MBA@UNC. She is quick to point out that the Semester Online model is not at all like that of the muchtalked-about massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The main differences? For Semester Online courses, class size will be small, content will be identical to what is offered on campus, schools will receive tuition, and students receiving passing grades will earn course credit toward their undergraduate degrees. Courses also will maintain the face-to-face aspect of traditional classrooms. Students and professors will appear on screen simultaneously, via webcams, during live sessions. They will converse in real time, give presentations, and get feedback as they would in traditional courses. Semester Online also provides students with much more flexibility to design their educational experiences, Cates emphasizes. "Let's say a student wants to spend three or even six months completing an internship in New York, volunteering in Costa Rica, or working to pay off debt," she says. "Semester Online allows them to do that without having to take a semester off." Whether students are on or off their home campuses, Semester Online also will allow them to interact with a wider range of peers, perspectives, and professors. The consortium will perfect the logistics of the program, such as how tuition and credits are transferred, over time. But Cates sees this model as being a potential game changer for higher education. "This is a totally different form of online delivery— it's a different approach for teaching and for learning," she says. "Being able to deliver quality education in such a flexible manner is exciting." For more information, visit semesteronline.org.