updated 1:20 a.m. Friday
Starting next Fall, the University will expand its online course offerings to include for-credit courses directed at Duke students.
The collaboration, called Semester Online, will include a number of courses offered by 10 participating schools, starting Fall 2013. The platform for the venture will be 2U, an online education company. Duke began offering online courses via the Coursera platform this semester, but these classes are universally accessible and not offered for credit. Semester Online courses will be included in the cost of Duke tuition, but the number of 2U courses a student can take in one semester may be limited.
“There’s potentially a lot to be gained from integrating some online elements with the rest of our curriculum,” said Provost Peter Lange. “It’s a field that’s moving very quickly and in a lot of different ways, and we’ve been open to experimenting with different types of experiences to see what we can learn and how we can best use it.”
The 2U courses will not be reserved for students at the participating universities—which include Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.
Lectures will be capped at 300 students, and the program will also include online discussion sections of 20 people.
“[The program] will have a very significant component of face-to-face interactive sessions,” Lange said.
Duke plans to offer two or three courses to start, but may increase the offerings to six. The details of the program, such as the courses that will be offered and their format, will be determined during the next few months, Lange said.
“We have to work with our consortium partners to develop a coherent curriculum of courses,” Lange said. “We have to see which of our faculty are interested.”
The program brings the unique benefit of allowing Duke students to take classes with students at other schools and may have a different perspective, said freshman Nick Curran. He added that he thinks the participating schools’ students all lie within similar intellectual ranges, which will be beneficial.
Freshman Po Alin said he was concerned that students would be averse to taking online classes, noting the detached nature of online learning.
“There’s something about having a teacher in front of you who you can talk to after class,” Alin said. “When you’re not in a classroom with other people you can talk to afterwards, for instance, or debate with, or form study groups with.”
Alin also noted the technological difficulties associated with online learning, such as possible lag in video conferences.
But Chip Paucek, 2U co-founder and CEO, emphasized the flexibility of online courses.
“Technology can provide high-quality learning experiences, empowering students to continue their education as they follow their ambitions, anywhere,” he said in a Duke news release.
An earlier version of this article stated that 2U courses will be limited to students enrolled at participating universities. The courses will in fact be open to students at other universities via an application process. The Chronicle regrets the error.