While American University is already well known for its impressive courses taught in the classroom, the D.C.-based school is finding great success online as well. Which would explain why AU’s increasing its presence in cyberspace, adding two new graduate degree programs expected to launch in January 2014: a master of arts in strategic communication, and a master of arts in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).
AU has big plans to expand its offerings with more online graduate degree programs during the course of the next year, already announcing that in May 2014 a whole slew of online master’s programs are set to take off in applied economics as well as nutrition education. This is just the start to what will be a fresh new approach to innovative learning at AU.
The university is no stranger to online courses. AU has been testing the waters over the past nine summers, although it has “not been a major player in online degree delivery,” according to vice provost for academic administration Violeta Ettle. Looking toward the future, though, AU has the potential to really make a name for itself when it comes to online learning.
We’ve seen local schools like Georgetown already begin excelling online with its first MOOC successfully attracting more than 20,000 students from 150 countries. University of Maryland seems to have found great success with its Coursera partnership, too. Now it’s AU’s turn.
With a goal of “bringing the world to AU and AU to the world,” the university has plans to make these new online degree programs as accessible to interested students as possible.
“You don’t need to sign on every day at 8 p.m. with everybody. If I’m free to sign on at midnight, I will see the same thing that my classmate who signed on at 2 p.m. saw,” Ettle explains.
As for the two new master’s program courses, one is being developed by professor of public communication Pallavi Kumar, who spoke to how intuitive the online platform truly is.
“If you’re a student in the MA program, you would pull up a system called Engage, which is the online learning management system, and there’s a video, there’s a discussion board, there’s a case study,” she says. “You’re actually pulling up a customized class that has been tailored to you.”
Polina Vinogradova, an AU linguist, is in charge of spearheading the TEFL program, and looks forward to removing the geographic barriers that prevent AU from reaching the global audience it so covets.
We could attract the international community outside of the U.S. who would like to get this global perspective of English language education, rather than the U.S. perspective that we’re providing [in residential classes].
From a logistics standpoint, the commitment to an online master’s degree program at AU will not be as time consuming as some may think. Students can take one class at a time for just eight weeks before moving on to the next, providing much easier access to post-grad learning for those that want to maintain their careers as they continue their education.
This is a step in the right direction for AU, showcasing just how willing the university is to take a risk, move online, and rival the competition.