Undergraduate students from 10 US universities will soon be able to study together through an online network that will enable them to take courses at other universities in the network. The project includes courses from multiple disciplines.

The students will be able to interact with both professors and the other participants in the online classroom, and receive course credits for their studies. This interaction and academic rigour distinguishes the proposed courses from the much-publicised Moocs (massive open online courses), says Peter Lange, Provost of Duke University in North Carolina, one of the 10 participating schools.

Chip Paucek, co-founder and chief executive of 2U (formerly 2tor), which has developed the online platform, says the consortium will continue to grow, and will be open to students from outside the US. However, the initial 10 universities involved are Brandeis, Duke, Emory, Northwestern, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, Rochester, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington University in St. Louis. The Kenan-Flagler school at UNC already uses 2U to support its successful MBA@UNC programme.

The universities say they expect thousands of students to participate in the Semester Online courses, but there will be a maximum of 20 students in each study group or section.

Applications for the new courses will open in the spring and the first courses will be available for the 2013 academic year.


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