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Boston College has begun offering classes through Semester Online, a Web-based consortium that provides for-credit courses to qualified undergraduates. Six universities are contributing 11 courses in total to the program’s launch this semester—Emory, Northwestern, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, Washington University in St. Louis, and Boston College. Brandeis, Wake Forest, the University of Melbourne, and Trinity College, Dublin, will introduce classes in spring 2014.
Unlike MOOCs (massive open online courses), which are free and available to anyone with Internet service, Semester Online limits admission to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with at least a 2.0 grade point average at a domestic or foreign undergraduate institution. Up to three sections of a course are taught, each capped at 20 students. Enrollees receive access to course materials such as video lectures, slideshows, and written documents. Each section meets with the professor weekly via an online interface for 80-minute discussions. Students and professor are able to see a grid of all participants, streamed live by means of their webcams. Students can collaborate on class projects through the same interface. Tests are taken online.
For undergraduates at Semester Online’s teaching institutions, the cost of enrolling in the program’s fall and spring classes is covered by tuition. Students at unaffiliated colleges and universities are charged $4,200 per course. All students will pay for summer courses.
This fall, Boston College presented two courses: “How to Rule the World” (with readings ranging from the Bible to Machiavelli to Shakespeare), taught by Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies Robert Bartlett; and “Vietnam: The War that Never Ends,” taught by associate professor of history Seth Jacobs.
Semester Online fall lineup:
“Baseball in American Culture,” Emory University (English department)
“Drugs and Behavior,” Emory University (psychology)
“Power, Politics, and Religion in America,” Emory University (history)
“Environmental and Energy Policies,” Washington University in St. Louis (political science)
“The Rise of Christianity,” University of Notre Dame (theology)
“Shakespeare and Film,” University of Notre Dame (English)
“Financial Accounting and Reporting,” University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
“Leading and Managing,” University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
“Integrated Marketing Communications,” Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism)
“How to Rule the World,” Boston College (political science)
“Vietnam: The War that Never Ends,” Boston College (history)
Read more by Zachary Jason