The College of William and Mary and Colonial Williamsburg have agreed to pool resources to attempt to create an online college-level history course on the American Revolution and Virginia’s role in the struggle. The course will be a massive open online course (MOOC).

A spokesman said this is the first time Colonial Williamsburg has attempted such a project.

colonial“We have, of course, had our online educational outreach,” said Jim Bradley.

But this is the first time the foundation has partnered with a school to create an actual course.

Both Bradley and William and Mary spokeswoman Suzanne Seurattan said the course, which has not yet been developed, would not be offered for credit.

“It would be as if you were auditing a course in college,” Bradley said.

Seurattan agreed, noting that the course would be free. Like other colleges, William and Mary charges a fee per credit hour.

At William and Mary those fees are $325 per undergraduate credit hour and $405 per graduate credit hour for in-state students. For out-of-state students the fees soar to $1,030 per undergraduate credit hour and $1,050 per graduate credit hour.

The program will combine William and Mary faculty and e-learning initiatives with Colonial Williamsburg’s media and production departments. The assets of both institutions’ museum and library collections will be utilized.

“This initiative is very engaging for three reasons,” William and Mary President Taylor Reveley said in announcing the plan. “First, it is an opportunity for William and Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to step into the world of MOOCs. This is a world we should get to know. Second, it’s hard to imagine two institutions more expert at crafting a compelling course about Virginia’s role in the struggle for American independence than William and Mary and Colonial Williamsburg. Our historians are at the cutting edge. Third, working together with the foundation, our neighbor and partner in many ways, will be a mutually rewarding delight.”

It advances some of the curriculum development work that Colonial Williamsburg has already done for elementary and secondary education.

“The initiative in partnership with the College of William and Mary is a welcome and logical extension of the foundation’s increasing use of technology in our … educational offerings and in the Revolutionary City,” said Colonial Williamsburg President Colin Campbell in a statement. “The opportunities to offer outstanding MOOCs at the post-secondary level are legion and there is a hunger for them. The college/foundation partnership is taking a significant step to helping to meet that demand.”

Colonial Williamsburg and the college will work together to develop a detailed proposal for the course — which William and Mary Professor James Whittenburg has been tapped to teach — and to seek donor support for funding.

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