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Semester Online Program Will Conclude This Summer

Northwestern students may now enroll in final Semester Online courses

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April 3, 2014 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Courses for Semester Online, a partnership between the online educational organization 2U and a consortium of universities located throughout the world, will be offered for the last time this summer. 

The summer 2014 Semester Online (SON) program will run June 9 to Aug. 8. A Northwestern University course on integrated marketing and communications that was offered last fall will be taught again this summer by Candy Lee, a professor at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

The summer session is the final semester of Semester Online, a pilot project in which Northwestern and nine other universities offered for-credit courses that could be taken by students enrolled in any of the consortium schools.

The decision not to continue the Semester Online program beyond this summer was made by consortium members.   

“A year ago Northwestern and a group of other universities agreed to participate in Semester Online, an experiment in online learning,” Provost Daniel Linzer said. “Our goals were to give faculty and students new opportunities -- new teaching tools and methods for faculty and additional curricular breadth and scheduling flexibility for students.  

“The consortium of universities, in partnership with 2U as the platform provider, created a set of courses for undergraduates that we offered in the fall, another set in the spring and a third group of courses for the upcoming summer term.

“While we have found a high level of satisfaction among faculty teaching and students taking these courses, some faculty expressed significant concerns about aspects of the Semester Online model,” Linzer said. “We also found considerable challenges working within a consortium to offer these courses.

“As a result, SON consortium members have decided not to continue Semester Online beyond the pilot year.

“We thank our university partners and 2U -- and faculty and students who participated in the courses -- for joining in this experiment,” Linzer added. “In the coming years, Northwestern will certainly continue to explore how best to take advantage of online learning.”

The Semester Online program features the same professors and curricula that on-campus courses provide, and, as usual, this summer students will meet online, twice a week, in live courses that cost approximately the same as regular courses at these institutions.

Interested students are encouraged to enroll for the summer program soon because of the limited number of seats per section. To initiate the approval process and begin enrollment, students should go to Semester Online

In the fall of 2013, Semester Online students took a Northwestern course titled “Integrated Marketing Communications” by Medill professor Lee, who teaches in Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and was recognized in 2012 as “Teacher of the Year” by IMC graduate students. 

To be offered again this summer, Lee’s course will explore key concepts and methods used to develop and execute marketing communications both in traditional mass media and in digital and social media platforms.

“Creating and teaching the Semester Online course for Northwestern was an enriching experience that increased my understanding of how we will think about knowledge exchange in a digital future,” Lee observed. “I am looking forward to teaching the rigorous ‘Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications’ class again this summer.” 

Lee spent hours preparing, presenting and videotaping the online lecture segments and guest lectures. Students in her course develop an understanding of marketing communications practices through readings, lectures, case analysis and discussions.

In fall 2013, recent Northwestern graduate, Nicky Nicholson-Klingerman enrolled in Lee’s Semester Online course to complete her Medill degree. She had one course left, and the online integrated marketing communications course allowed her to move across the country to live with her family and search for a job while she completed her degree.

“I enjoyed the flexibility of watching lectures and completing homework on my own time and then simply going online for the live class from wherever I could find a Wi-Fi signal,” Nicholson-Klingerman said. 

Northwestern students have participated in courses at other consortium universities as well. 

James Hu, a Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, completed a psychology course offered by Emory University last fall. It was his first virtual classroom experience, and he said it was very much like seminar-style classes he takes at Northwestern, but with a surprising twist.

“The technology allowed us to see the faces of every student during class, so it felt even more personal than a regular classroom experience, even though there was this geographical distance between us,” Hu said.

Besides Northwestern, Semester Online includes Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, The University of Melbourne, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Trinity College Dublin, University of Notre Dame, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.

-Erin White, broadcast editor/web content provider at Northwestern, contributed to the story.