Professors reflect on online courses

Brandeis Profs. Marc Brettler (NEJS) and Ellen Wright (PSYC) embraced an online course format this semester, each teaching one class through Semester Online, The Justice reports.

This marked the University’s first venture into online course offerings, joining a consortium of nine other colleges who are also offer courses through Semester Online.

The consortium offers a total of 21 courses. Though both Brandeis courses were intended to attract Brandeis students as well as students from consortium schools, Wright’s “Psychological and Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Health” online course enrolled only Brandeis students.

In total, 29 Brandeis students are enrolled in online courses, 18 enrolled in Wright’s class and 11 enrolled in courses offered by consortium partners, according to Senior Vice President of Communications Ellen de Graffenreid. Brettler’s course, “The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: Then and Now,” only enrolled students from consortium partner schools. De Graffenreid wrote, “offering an academic strength at Brandeis to students at other top-ranked schools” is “exactly what was intended with Semester Online.”

In an email to the Justice, Brettler wrote that he wishes Brandeis students were also taking this course, “but there is something exciting about teaching students from other schools, and increasing the diversity of the students I am teaching.”

… Both professors said they sought to teach online courses due to personal interest in the method. Brettler wrote that he liked to experiment with new educational models “especially because I think that the standard model of three hours of classroom contact is arbitrary and not always best for the students.”

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