While MOOCs may be taking most of the spotlight right now, there is another program that is gaining attention across the United States before it even begins. Semester Online, created by 2U, brings together a number of prestigious colleges and universities across the nation to offer for-credit, online courses beginning in the Fall 2013. Offering for-credit programs gives Semester Online a huge advantage as MOOCs have not quite figured out their for-credit model yet.
Here are some key advantages to Semester Online that give it credibility:
Class sizes will be smaller to facilitate more collaboration.
Courses will be rigorous and challenging just like courses offered at the universities.
There will be live, online classes each week so students and faculty can interact.
Classes can be attended from anywhere that has Internet access.
Semester Online has had some struggles while building their program. Several universities who initially committed to the project have pulled back in the past few weeks. Duke University faculty protested the program because of fears of credibility and reputation. Other universities like Vanderbilt and University of Rochester have pulled out for similar reasons.
In reviewing their website, Semester Online has a number of credible universities still on board and a variety of courses that range from history, religion, accounting, and marketing. It is sure to be an interesting experiment and one that will certainly bring another disruption to higher education if it is successful.