The Association of Yale Alumni will launch its second series of online courses for alumni this February, and the courses could be used for more than just that.
Yale will offer one literature and one psychology course for alumni, the same classes that were offered in the program’s first run last spring. These courses are likely candidates for use by the University Alliance for Life-Long Learning, a distance-learning program through which Yale, Stanford, Princeton and Oxford universities will bring continuing education to their alumni.
This year’s AYA classes will be more expensive and last for a longer time than last year. Yale will again offer “The Intelligent Emotions,” designed by professor Peter Salovey and “To Hear Their Voices: Chaucer, Shakespeare and Frost,” designed by professor Marie Boroff.
This program was initially designed as a way to offer Yale courses to Yale alumni. But its scope may soon grow.
Yale President Richard Levin said the University had in mind all along that these AYA courses could potentially be extended for use in the alliance.
“Once the alliance is up and running, all courses will hopefully be run through it,” Levin said.
The alliance, announced last September, is the largest coordinated effort by major universities to use the Internet to distribute their intellectual capital in the form of course offerings.
Levin said directors of the alliance have the power to reject courses proposed by the four universities, and if the AYA courses do not make the cut, they will still be offered exclusively to Yale alumni.
AYA executive director Jeff Brenzel said because each university contributed $3 million to the alliance, courses for that larger program have more of a priority than continuing the current AYA education program.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from alumni for our pilot courses,” Brenzel said. “But it’s going to take an entity like the alliance to really flesh this out.”
Levin said all four of the campuses involved in the alliance are working concomitantly on programs like the alumni courses at the AYA and that is why they decided to collaborate. Many models for different courses are being tested now on each campus, and there is no guarantee that the AYA courses will be selected.
“I expect we’ll be offering courses through the alliance,” said Steve Victor, the associate director for education at the AYA. “But it depends on what they think of our models.”
Alliance members are currently conducting focus groups comprised of graduates from all four schools to determine where alumni interests lie. Brenzel said he hopes the alliance would be functional by next academic year.
This year, 40 alumni will participate in each AYA course.
Based on feedback from last year’s participants, the AYA extended the program from four weeks to six weeks because students and professors felt they were spending between eight to 12 hours a week just to keep up with the workload.
In addition to the time change, the cost of taking these classes will rise significantly. The spring 2000 courses cost under $100, but the 2001 program will cost students $295.
“With the new cost we will just break even,” Brenzel said.
In signing up for a course, students receive a package including six half-hour video taped lectures by Salovey or Boroff.
In addition, there is an online supplement to the tapes. The professors prepared online discussion questions, readings and exercises to accompany the lectures. Because the professors do not have the time to monitor the Web sites and message boards, either post-doctoral students or tenured faculty at other institutions will lead the online sections.
Regardless of the extent to which the current AYA program will collaborate with the alliance, Brenzel said he hopes that several years from now the AYA will have many courses designed by Yale faculty to offer their alumni.