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Wake Forest Joins Cross-Institutional Online Course Consortium

Wake Forest University has become the eighth school to join 2U's Semester Online program, which offers hybrid, self-paced, credit-bearing courses. Starting in spring 2014 Carole Browne, a member of Wake Forest's pre-allied health professions program, will deliver "Introduction to Bioethics." The course may be taken by any student attending one of Semester Online's consortium schools or international students attending schools outside of the United States who have been accepted for admission.

Successful completion will result in three credit hours being issued by Wake Forest to the student, which could be used as transfer credits to his or her originating school if the student's school considers it appropriate for the given major.

The other institutions in the consortium are Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis.

2U works with universities to design and market online versions of their master's degree programs. The company's customers include all of the Semester Online consortium members.

Semester Online, whose courses are limited to about 20 students, delivers undergraduate level courses on topics ranging from Boston's "How to Rule the World" (exploring what it takes to gain and maintain political dominance) to Washington U's Environmental and Energy Policies. In each case, 2U course developers work one-on-one with university faculty to translate their on-campus curricula into content for online delivery.

Course content may feature professionally produced videos, readings, recorded guest lectures and interviews, quizzes, and games. All classes are worth three credits and consist of a mix of self-paced coursework and weekly real-time on-screen sessions with the instructor and the other students. The platform used to deliver the courses is the same one developed by 2U for its master's programs.

"Wake Forest's time-tested model of education, defined by a highly personal approach and a focus on educating the whole person, is characterized by small classes and a tight-knit community," said Provost Rogan Kersh. "We have engaged in an ongoing campus-wide dialogue about how Wake Forest might best utilize online tools and other technological innovations to effectively enhance our high-touch, face-to-face educational experience. Semester Online is the first online program that is able to offer this level of engagement to our students and faculty."

"At the heart of our liberal arts commitment is helping our students to develop the abilities to think critically, communicate effectively, and create original work--which leads to lives of passion and purpose," added Dean Jacque Fetrow. "We are exploring how technology can be used as a valuable supplement to this commitment. The Semester Online partnership will allow our students to continue taking classes towards a degree while studying abroad, taking advantage of an internship opportunity or fulfilling family obligations--that might otherwise mean putting their studies on hold."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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