Twice as many online summer classes to be offered for students

by Egan Davis / Beacon Correspondent • March 5, 2015

The number of Emerson’s online summer classes will double, according to Jennifer Stevens, director of Emerson’s Instructional Technology Group. 

“These are Emerson faculty teaching high-quality classes to our Emerson students so that they can take them no matter where they are in the world,” said Michaele Whelan, the chief academic officer.

Emerson began offering online summer classes four years ago under former president Jacqueline Liebergott. Whelan started using the summer period for pilot courses and wanted to expand the number of classes offered, according to Stevens. 

“I would like to see our summer school in the future perhaps be 80 percent online,” said Whelan.

Stevens said today, there are online courses in literature, philosophy, journalism, theater, and communications. 

The classes are all four credits each, and they have all have been taught in person at Emerson at some point in the past, according to Stevens.

Most departments are represented except visual and media arts. There will be limited performing arts classes, according to Whelan; courses in acting and stagecraft will not be available. 

“Some things are going to work well with online and some things aren’t. If it’s going to be a media studies course that’s really heavy in streaming film, the cost of getting copyright of all the films is going to be huge,” Stevens said.

Stevens said all of the classes use Canvas, the online platform for course management used schoolwide, as a base and do not take place at the same time. For example, if students are in  different time zones, they won’t have to wake up for simultaneous video chats, according to Stevens. The classes will be forum-based, using the text discussion feature on Canvas, and will have deadlines every week, according to Stevens. Each class will have around 12 people, according to Stevens.

Sophomore visual and media arts major David Carliner said expanding the array of online courses would be beneficial to the Emerson community, particularly for those who live or study abroad.

“It’ll be helpful because some people aren’t necessarily able to be in Boston for the courses offered,” said Carliner. “It also helps out people who switched majors, because they now have the ability to catch up”. 

David said he could have benefitted from online summer classes when he switched majors from writing, literature, and publishing to visual and media arts. 

“This will also be a huge help to students who want to graduate early,” Carliner said. “They now have the opportunity to get ahead and graduate when they want to.”

Jack Skinner, a Beacon correspondent, contributed to the reporting of this article.