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Media Advisory: Wake Forest University joins consortium of top colleges and universities in introducing Semester Online

First-of-its-kind online program features live, rigorous, for-credit courses for college students

By Katie Neal, 336-758-6141, nealkc@wfu.edu and Cheryl Walker, 336-758-6073, walkercv@wfu.edu Office of Communications and External Relations

Today, a group of the nation’s leading universities, including Wake Forest University, announced plans to launch a new, innovative program that transforms the model of online education. Semester Online will be the first program of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous, online courses for credit from a consortium of the country’s top schools.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools – including Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, Northwestern University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis – as well as other top schools across the country. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions in the next year.

As part of the consortium, Wake Forest has committed to evaluating online tools and practices that can enhance the pedagogical experience. Exploratory conversations with Wake Forest faculty and other consortium schools will ultimately determine the courses Wake Forest might offer through Semester Online.

“Online learning is an area of interest and focus, and Wake Forest is honored to be among such an esteemed group of colleges and universities exploring new frontiers in higher education,” said Provost Rogan Kersh. “For years, we have engaged in an ongoing campus-wide dialogue about how Wake Forest wants to use online education to effectively enhance our deeply personal educational experience. These important conversations with faculty will continue as we determine our path forward.”

Initial Semester Online courses will feature the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and they are delivered live on an interactive, online platform. Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will collaborate with peers and be guided by Wake Forest faculty, as well as professors from other schools — just as they would if they were attending classes on campus.

Semester Online is not meant as a substitute for on-campus classroom education. Instead, the program will allow students to continue taking classes towards a degree while working, traveling or managing personal commitments – from studying abroad to fulfilling family obligations – that in the past might have meant putting their studies on hold. Additionally, Semester Online will enable students to take advantage of and receive course credit for unique course offerings from other prestigious institutions, some of which they would not have had access to otherwise.

“We embrace the face-to-face, residential college model as foundational to a Wake Forest education. At the heart of our liberal arts commitment is helping our students develop the abilities to write effectively, discuss rationally, create original work, solve problems imaginatively, and learn independently—in short, to live a fulfilling, reflective life,” said Jacquelyn Fetrow, Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics and Dean of Wake Forest College. “Technology can be a valuable supplement to this commitment; it is vital that we continue exploring how best to use its fruits as a tool in delivering a Wake Forest-style education.”

The program will be delivered through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, formerly known as 2tor, the leader in creating online academic experiences for top universities. Semester Online will feature many of the same elements that 2U offers its prestigious master’s degree program partners, including live class sessions that connect students and professors; compelling, richly produced, self-paced course materials; and a strong social network that allows students to connect and build relationships with peers online.

Additional information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013.

About Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.

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