Ever thought of attending a top U.S. college, only to be deterred by the sky-high cost of tuition, your own age and lifestyle, or the physical distance separating you from the prestigious higher learning institution in question? You’re definitely not alone in this conundrum – and, luckily enough, the advent of the digital era has a solution for you. Even New York University, one of the country’s top private institutions offers online training opportunities. The school, which ranked at number 32 in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges from U.S. News, runs an Open Education program, in which it provides free access to open courseware. But how open are they really? And can you take any course online? What do they offer? In the following, we provide you with some details on the current offer of NYU online courses available to you – and anyone else with an Internet connection, for that matter.
1. All about NYU’s Open Education program
This groundbreaking program began in the fall semester of 2009, funded and initiated by the Office of the Provost. It was inaugurated at the initiative of the then Dean for the Social Sciences, Dalton Conley. The program also benefitted from unparalleled support from the school’s department of Information Technology Services. Don’t think for a second that NYU offered second rate coursework for their program. They started their online training effort in full force, with a course in American Literature (From beginnings to the Civil War), taught by Prof. Cyrus Patell. Prof. Daniel Walkowitz taught a social history course on New York City, while science courses included one in Genomes & Diversity, by Prod. Mark L. Siegal, calculus, taught by Prof. Matthew Leingang, and Natural Science II, taught by Prof. Wendy Suzuki. And this is but scratching at the surface of the important courses offered during that first semester.
2. Online at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS)
You may be tempted to think that the NYU SCPS is a relatively new initiative, prompted by the harsh conditions of the recession’s aftermath. In a way, you’d be right – the institution was around for the previous major economic downturn, too, since it was founded in the 1930s. In fact, it has recently turned 80. Its offer is incredibly varied: they provide credit and non-credit courses alike, undergraduate and graduate degrees, and numerous types of certificates. Among them, of course, stand a great many courses and certificates which can be obtained online. Some of the areas of study covered at the SCPS include languages, publishing, global affairs, finance, law, and taxation, health, management, marketing, and IT.
3. Development with the SCPS online offering
Now that we’ve covered a bit of history, it’s important to know that the SCPS at NYU is one of the top educational institutions in the U.S. that offers online noncredit courses. You can take them for any number of reasons: for their outstanding quality, because you want to learn and grow as a person, or because you’re set on developing your career and could use a new set of skills and know-how. Whatever your motives, you’ll have plenty to choose from – including courses that are fully online and others that combine class coursework with digital education. Fundraising, global affairs, property management, creative writing, real estate, plumbing systems design, and many more are part of the offer.
4. How NYU is impacting the open education movement
With the raving success of their Open Education pilot project in their track record, NYU proceeded to add to their already diverse offer of courses. After the completion of several semesters, the initiator of the project, Dean Conley, wrote a Newsweek op-ed about the experience, in which he addressed some of the positive effects of the program. As Conley himself wrote in 2010, “Pennsylvania’s university system is considering making its language courses online only; Indiana recently added an ‘affordable’ Web‐based campus; and Yale Law School is sharing resources with the University of the People, a pioneering ‘global college’ that’s tuition‐free and totally online.” These top schools, which had previously been off-limits to many were suddenly becoming democratized – and the process of change continues to this day.
5. What’s in store for the future
As NYU continues to develop its Open Education program, those interested in it have plenty to look forward to. As the program’s mission boldly states, the university has made it its objective “to become the first university to deploy 21st century technology to reinvent the 19th century tutorial model—on a global scale, to boot”. The school was one of the first in the world to consider the development of an online campus. It plans on continuing down this groundbreaking path by having its courses translated into the world’s most circulated languages and enhancing the material so that it can be shared and distributed around the world with that much more ease.
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