2U Helps Online Master’s Degree Programs
Most graduate schools that put their courses online want to ensure that their classes have small amounts of students and don't provide all of the information online so that the students would be required to learn by experience outside of the online classroom. However, this is the exact type of issue that 2U is now seeking to target with its cloud platform which is designed for hosting online courses on the behalf of universities. This practice is combined with offering services that would be able to help arrange those real world experiences for online students who are outside of the service area of some of the universities that they are attending. The dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education said she understood why contracting 2U would be a necessary choice. "Our school of engineering has had distance learning for a very long time – they started with television – and they do their own thing. But teachers are not the same as engineers. They would not put up with lecturing via the Internet." She went on to say that 2U's cloud service provides 24/7 technical support to faculty and students, which is something that the school would not be able to provide with their on premises technology.
One of the main reasons that the teacher training program was hesitating to offer courses online was because they had seen so many bad online learning courses where it wasn't interactive. 2H projects the experience of a small class into the online learning experience by using Adobe Connect as a tool for video conferencing and presentation. That would allow for students to see each other and the teacher, which would promote more interactive experiences during discussions and general classroom learning. The website for accessing the course materials is very similar to Facebook, which makes it more familiar and inviting for students to get involved with. It helps them by building on the ways that they are already used to interacting with each other.
These were some of the same motivations which caused the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services to choose 2U after they launched their online master's degree program. The dean noted, "It's very much designed to replicate a campus environment, where you not only meet with the instructor face-to-face on a weekly basis but students bump into each other and become acquaintances. They form a social network with the other students in their classes."
Originally started in 2009 as 2tor, 2U was co-founded by John Katzman, who was previously responsible for founding Princeton Review – as well as Chip Paucek, the current CEO of the company. 2U is considered to be the best funded out of all of the education technology startups, having raised $90.8 million. Some other school-as-a-service offerings include Altius, Everspring, and learning management systems like Blackboard and Instructure's Canvas. Though many students and instructors are used to the Whiteboard format, the format offered by 2U may be the advancement that both sides of academia have been looking for.
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