GW joins forces with other universities to share online course offerings

Students will soon be able to learn Haitian Creole or advanced Yiddish without stepping off campus.

In its latest step to expand its online offerings, the University has partnered with 14 colleges nationwide to crowdsource each school’s most unique online courses. This is also one of GW’s first major moves online that would impact undergraduates.

After GW’s pilot run this spring, Provost Steven Lerman said students will be able to take the for-credit classes that the University doesn’t offer in-house at universities such as Notre Dame and Syracuse.

“This came up as a pretty interesting idea, since we naturally specialize anyway and take advantage of the natural specialization to avoid everyone essentially reinventing the wheel,” Lerman said. He said the program would start small to gauge student interest.

GW is one of three colleges, including Brandeis University and the University of Miami, to offer up online courses to other students outside their universities.

Dianne Martin, a vice provost and computer science professor, will offer her information policy course as part of the consortium. The University will also teach a course in political management.

The Colonial Group Consortium also connects provosts at 14 universities like Lehigh and Wake Forest to talk about challenges and strategies of building up online programs. Many of the schools will also share enrollment and performance data to allow for comparisons across institutions, Lerman said.

“We just get together and talk about issues or problems. It’s universities that are more or less like ours, so we have a lot of things in common,” Lerman said, adding that most schools are private, mid-sized and urban. “A lot of things that happen to one happen to the other.”

GW is already part of a consortium with other D.C. universities, including Georgetown and American, which allow students to take classes that GW does not offer free of charge.

The University’s first vice provost for online learning, Paul Schiff Berman, said students will enroll in the courses through the GW registrar, as they would any course they were taking on campus.

Berman, who announced the plans to the Board of Trustees this month, said he expected it to grow over time.

The pilot stage would help answer logistical questions, such as how students should access accounts at the partner school, Berman said.

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