Princeton University withdrew Thursday from the Alliance for Lifelong Learning — the partnership among Yale, Stanford, Princeton and Oxford universities that plans to offer online courses to alumni, their families and other supporters.
The program’s pilot round of 10 classes began this October. The other three schools are moving on to the second phase of the project, but Princeton made the decision to end its involvement.
Princeton will independently pursue the development of technology that will allow online teaching and will make lectures widely available, Vice President of Technology Betty Leydon said in a written statement.
Yale President Richard Levin said Princeton has been in talks with the partner schools about pulling out of the Alliance in recent weeks.
“I am obviously disappointed that Princeton is leaving,” Levin said. “Their partnership added a lot to the group but the remaining three schools are determined to press on and gain the benefits from collaboration.”
Levin said that Princeton’s decision to withdraw should not be seen as a sign of a failing project.
“I really think it is as simple as a new administration taking a new look at the project,” he said. “All these investments in online education require a significant investment of resources and they were more interested in pursuing a different kind of strategy.”
Herbert Allison ’65, CEO and executive director of the Alliance, said he did not think Princeton’s absence would have a major effect on the project.
“We have three schools with combined faculties and tremendous resources,” Allison said. “I think the resources we can access are fully adequate to meet our objectives, and we have all we need to move ahead.”
Princeton has contributed two of the 10 courses on the Alliance Web site. Princeton Provost Amy Gutmann said in a statement that these initial courses would remain on the site this semester, but Levin said he is not sure if the Princeton courses will be used in the spring.
Levin said he believes collaboration is still the best method to implement online learning.
“At this early stage, we don’t know a lot about what kinds of online courses and educational programs will be effective and will be well received by our alumni and other adults interested in continuing education,” said Levin. “Having a group of schools invested allows us to develop more courses than any school could do alone.”
Princeton’s announcement came as a surprise even to those involved closely with the project.
“This is the first I have heard of it,” said Stephen Victor, Association of Yale Alumni associate director for education and communication.