Committee recommends online courses

Online Exclusive

In a report released 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the Ad Hoc Yale College Committee on Online Education recommended that the University begin offering online courses for students and the general public during the academic year.

The committee released its final report to Yale College Dean Mary Miller, detailing its findings and recommendations for how Yale should develop an online education program. The committee, led by psychology professor Paul Bloom and music professor Craig Wright, formed in September with the purpose of assessing Yale’s online educational presence and considering ways in which to expand the online course program to allow non-Yale students to benefit from Yale resources and teaching.

“Yale has this mission: the creation, preservation and dissemination of knowledge. This is dissemination,” Bloom said. “We’re extremely excited for the use of digital initiatives to disseminate knowledge and we plan to move forward building upon the strengths we’ve already established.”

Bloom said the committee recommends students enroll in just one online course during their Yale education, and added that the online platform will not only expose students to new technologies but also enable them to learn in a classroom-setting with students across the globe. He said students studying abroad will also benefit from the program since they will be able to take courses and fulfill requirements while off-campus.

The online courses would follow the template of ten online summer courses Yale offered in 2011 and 2012, which were open to the public and each limited to 20 students. The courses were taught in “class” format, with all participants attending via live video stream and learning from or discussing with the professor and each other in real time. The course technology also included a chat function, in which students could type to each other or privately to the instructor during the session.

The report proposes that faculty members be offered the choice of whether to teach online courses or participate in posting course materials to the public for non-credit. The report also encourages professors who teach online courses to make their course materials open to the public, and recommends that those who wish to teach non-credit courses explore and experiment with different Massive Open Online Course formats, which are currently in use by peer institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Stanford University.

Though Yale and non-Yale students can use the credits towards their undergraduate degrees, the committee recommended that Yale College not offer online degrees themselves. The committee is planning to discuss the report at a Yale College faculty meeting on Thursday.

Miller announced the Ad Hoc Yale College Committee on Online Education in a Sept. 21 message to the Yale community.

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