While Ohio State doesn’t have plans to officially participate in a new online program offering classes via video chat, OSU students might still be able to get university credit for classes like “How to Rule the World” and “Baseball and American Culture.”
Semester Online, a program that offers for-credit online courses, uses live video conferencing and online chats to teach students. The program offers courses from a collection of schools including Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.
The program opened enrollment for 19 courses in its Spring 2014 catalog.
Semester Online is in partnership with 2U, Inc., a company founded in 2008 that aims to provide universities with technology, infrastructural support and capital to make programs available online, according to the 2U website.
University registrar Brad Myers said although Ohio State hasn’t discussed joining the program, the university shouldn’t have a problem accepting the credits of students who take the courses.
“The institutions mentioned are all regionally and nationally accredited … I know that we would feel confident about the quality of the class work and oversight into the development, approval and evaluation processes from those institutions,” Myers said.
The program’s pilot opened in Fall 2013 for its first semester, with more than 100 students enrolled across 10 different courses, Andrew Hermalyn, executive vice president and general manager of Semester Online, said. Students who are currently enrolled in a regionally accredited institution and are of sophomore, junior or senior standing, as well as in good academic standing, can now apply for Spring 2014 courses until the Dec. 23 deadline, Hermalyn said.
Hermalyn said the classes cost $1,400 per credit hour and all classes are three credit hours, totalling $4,200 per course.
He said the program targets specific students.
“The Semester Online program was really meant for two types of students. The first type of student is the type that might want to take a semester off campus to work, travel, get an internship or be at home for a personal reason, but do not want to fall behind. The second is the kind that might want to remain on campus but take courses in areas that Ohio State may not offer and use this as curricular expansion,” Hermalyn said.
The classes include self-paced work throughout the week, as well as one 80-minute class per week where the students are in a live chat with the professor and other students.
“It’s all front row, small class sizes with no more than 20 students, which keeps the quality and rigour of the class really high,” Hermalyn said.
Connor Regan, a Northwestern second-year in economics and learning and organizational change, is taking a course through Semester Online’s pilot program and said it’s been a worthwhile experience so far.
“I’ve never taken an interactive online course before, so it’s been interesting to see how this format lines up with my learning method. I’d say that my workload is approximately equivalent to that which is expected in my traditional format classes — it’s different, not more or less necessarily,” he said in an email.
OSU offers its own selection of online classes — during Spring Semester 2013, there were 154 different courses that had students enrolled in at least one distance learning section, according to Lantern archives.
Some OSU students said this type of program could take away from what students learn to overcome by having on-campus classes.
“Waking up for the 8 a.m. (classes) makes you a bit of stronger person,” said Kelly Hill, a third-year in engineering who has taken OSU’s online classes in the past.
Other students said they see the program as an opportunity to take classes at some top universities.
“They are famous universities and I really want to experience other schools teaching methods and see what the difference is between their school and our school,” said Zhengjie Li, a fourth-year in communication who has taken online classes at OSU before.