Online Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Online Education

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

Increasingly, college life is less about walking across the quad or stopping at the dining hall before sitting in a big lecture hall, and more about flipping open a laptop at home.

Take Royal Witcher, a St. Louis native and Army veteran who lives in Belmont, Mississippi. He completed most of his bachelor’s degree through the University of Phoenix, a fully online institution, but often felt like just a number.

When it was time for his MBA, the 45-year-old did his research — lots of it — and decided on Maryville University, which has a campus in suburban St. Louis. But he didn’t return to Missouri, instead taking advantage of an online degree.

Washington University's Brookings Hall
(via Flickr/Washington University/with permission)

After failing to make the grade with professors at Washington University, Semester Online is going offline for good.

The consortium was designed to let students at Washington U. and other schools in the group — universities such as Emory, Northwestern and Notre Dame — take online courses in areas that their home school does not offer. It began this school year, and the universities and Semester Online’s parent company, 2U, had high hopes that it could be a pioneer for online learning.

The professor and students can see each other, participate in chat and see course materials at the same time.
Screenshot from promotional video

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bill Lowry considers himself to be a “pretty low-tech guy – no iPhone, no apps, any of that stuff” – so he thought it was pretty ironic that he is teaching the first class at Washington University’s entry into the growing field of internet education.

Dubbed Semester Online, the program joins Washington U. with other schools, including Emory, Northwestern and Notre Dame, for online instruction that is less open, less massive than the so-called MOOCs – massive online open courses -- that have been popping up all over in recent years.