The Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a member of a consortium of leading universities participating in Semester Online, a new program that will offer U.S. undergrad students the opportunity to take online, forcredit courses at any of the member schools. Kenan- Flagler is the only business school in the consortium.
In addition to UNC, consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Other institutions could join the consortium before the program's launch this fall.
Courses offered through Semester Online will be available to any academically qualified undergraduate student enrolled at any U.S. college or university. For students enrolled at consortium schools, the cost of the courses will be covered by their home school tuition. For other students, the cost is $4,000 per course, and they will need to apply and be accepted.
The consortium has partnered with 2U, formerly known as 2tor, to offer classes through its virtual classroom and interactive platform. Limited to 20 students, each course will include live class sessions and discussions led by professors, self-paced course materials and exercises, and a social networking function that students can use to connect with classmates online. These courses will feature the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, although future courses may be designed specifically for online delivery.
Kenan-Flagler already offers its MBA@UNC online MBA program through 2U, so joining the consortium makes sense, says Susan Cates, executive director of MBA@UNC. She is quick to point out that the Semester Online model is not at all like that of the muchtalked- about massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The main differences? For Semester Online courses, class size will be small, content will be identical to what is offered on campus, schools will receive tuition, and students receiving passing grades will earn course credit toward their undergraduate degrees.
Courses also will maintain the face-to-face aspect of traditional classrooms. Students and professors will appear on screen simultaneously, via webcams, during live sessions. They will converse in real time, give presentations, and get feedback as they would in traditional courses.
Semester Online also provides students with much more flexibility to design their educational experiences, Cates emphasizes. "Let's say a student wants to spend three or even six months completing an internship in New York, volunteering in Costa Rica, or working to pay off debt," she says. "Semester Online allows them to do that without having to take a semester off." Whether students are on or off their home campuses, Semester Online also will allow them to interact with a wider range of peers, perspectives, and professors.
The consortium will perfect the logistics of the program, such as how tuition and credits are transferred, over time. But Cates sees this model as being a potential game changer for higher education.
"This is a totally different form of online delivery— it's a different approach for teaching and for learning," she says. "Being able to deliver quality education in such a flexible manner is exciting."
For more information, visit semesteronline.org.
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has installed new telepresence technology, developed by Cisco, which allows individuals to transmit life-size, high-definition visual communication to other locations. Wharton is now using the technology to link its Philadelphia and San Francisco campuses. Wharton's two "Cisco Connected Classrooms"—one on each coast—are equipped with 80-inch LED monitors on the side walls of each room and large projection screens in the rear. From the professor's viewpoint, students in the remote location appear to be seated in the rows directly behind students in the physical classroom; from the viewpoint of the remote students, the professor is projected at full size on a floor-to-ceiling screen.
The school also will use Cisco's Capture, Transform, Share video platform to record lectures for students' future use.
Admissi ons officers who think they're aware of all the ways that high school and college students research their schools may want to think again. A recent survey of high school sophomores, juniors, seniors, and college students shows that a significant portion of their interaction with a school's marketing channels may go undetected.
Marketing firm Lipman Hearne recently worked with college search site Cappex.com to survey its users—a group that Cappex estimates to be 25 percent of the college-bound population. The survey attracted 11,244 respondents.
According to the survey, 23 percent of the respondents were "stealth applicants," who conducted research— sometimes even visited campuses—but did not identify themselves until they submitted their applications to their chosen schools.
The number of stealth applicants is growing because of the availability of search engines and informational websites, in addition to traditional print guidebooks and schools' direct marketing products. Forty-five percent had visited a college's website on a mobile device and 10 percent had downloaded a college's app on a mobile device.
Only 9 percent had texted with a representative of a school. However, 70 percent of respondents were open to communicating with admissions via text, as long as the respondents already had reached out to the school. Also, more than one in three indicated that online banner advertising was an effective way to reach them, and that they recalled these ads more favorably than all other forms of advertising combined.
Although 88 percent of respondents have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media networks, only 8 percent used their accounts to speak with friends about the colleges they were most interested in. However, 44 percent noted that they expected schools to check their social media accounts in the admissions process. Nearly 40 percent of respondents set up dedicated email accounts for their college searches; of these, 71 percent checked their accounts daily.
Respondents also noted that, when choosing a school, the most important factors to them were scholarship and financial aid; strong academic reputation; affordable tuition and fees; and job placement success.
"Stealth applicants apply to colleges under the radar of admissions teams," says Tom Abrahamson, chairman of Lipman Hearne. "Their unexpected applications can complicate schools' admissions planning and projections." For these reasons, he adds, colleges need to be more focused on reaching this largely unrecognized group of students.
The full report, "The Super Investigator: Understanding Today's 'Always On' Prospective Student," is available by request at www.lipmanhearne.com/super investigators.aspx.
What will higher education look like in five years? The New Media Consortium (NMC), an international community of educational technology experts and practitioners, has released its 2013 NMC New Horizons Report, which outlines the new technology that promises to transform the classroom.
Within the next year, the report expects that the "flipped classroom"—where students access most course content online—will become more typical. Professors will spend classroom time on more hands-on project-based activities. The report also predicts a rapid increase in MOOCs, the use of mobile apps, and tablet computing.
Within two to three years, educators will adopt augmented reality or "blended reality," in which students interact with virtual objects that "bring underlying data to life." The report predicts that educators will use learning analytics to gather data on their students' academic progress, and they'll use game-based learning— such as massively multiplayer online games and global social awareness games—to engage students.
Finally, within four to five years, the report's authors predict that more educators will adopt three-dimensional printing for rapid prototyping, flexible computer displays, and efficient next-generation batteries. Wearable technology, which packs computer power into items such as glasses or backpacks, will be used to teach. The report mentions Google Glass, a device that Google is now testing. The single-lens device, worn like eyeglasses, displays information in the wearer's direct line of sight.
For these advances to be used effectively, academic institutions need to create a more robust infrastructure to train educators in new technologies, the report's authors write. They conclude, "As this [process] unfolds, the focus should not be on the technologies themselves, but on the pedagogies that make them useful."
The full report is available at www.nmc.org/ pdf/2013-horizon-report-HE.pdf.