BU’s new general education curriculum, the Hub, is officially going online this summer, with three courses designed for students who would like to take a class and earn Hub credit while they are off campus for the summer.
Students who are eligible for financial aid may receive scholarships for these pilot online courses, says Elizabeth Loizeaux, associate provost for undergraduate affairs.
The three inaugural online classes—Introductory Microeconomic Analysis, General Psychology, and Elementary Statistics—will run during Summer II, from July 1 to August 16. Each online class has 60 slots available for students. The classes also will be offered in traditional face-to-face classroom settings during the same time.
The Hub offers more than 800 courses fulfilling units in each of six essential capacities, with Terriers needing 26 units to graduate. The six capacities are philosophical, aesthetic, and historical interpretation; scientific and social inquiry; quantitative reasoning; diversity, civic engagement, and global citizenship; communication; and “intellectual toolkit,” which includes skills like critical thinking, teamwork/collaboration, and research and information literacy.
“We wanted to be able to offer the flexibility of students being able to take courses during the summer, both on campus and while they were at home,” Loizeaux says. Because the three “are the most popular courses that students take at other universities during the summer,” they were chosen as the initial online offerings.
“If these are successful, the plan is certainly to develop more courses over the next year for offering next summer,” she says. There are as yet no plans to offer online Hub classes during the regular academic year.
Elementary Statistics instructor Gregg Harbaugh, a College of Arts & Sciences research associate professor, has taught online classes for almost a decade. Designing that course taps the same approach to teaching he’s used for decades, he says, as “the Hub capacities and associated learning outcomes align very well with my courses.
“One advantage of the online instruction for statistics and mathematics classes is the ability to make explicit some of the ways students can develop specific, self-regulated learning skills,” such as efficient reading of math textbooks and technical documents.
Although she has taught General Psychology numerous times in the classroom, this will be Martha Tompson’s first online course. “And I’m excited about it,” says the CAS associate professor of psychological and brain sciences. The Hub’s specific learning outcomes would be important to convey in any iteration of the class, so teaching it for the Hub “makes me more explicit about things I would have done anyway.”
Online instruction will expand the different ways students learn, Tompson says, from allowing her to embed videos to providing reference links in course materials for students who want to pursue additional research on a topic.
That’s part of the point, says Chrysanthos Dellarocas, BU’s associate provost for Digital Learning & Innovation (DL&I), which is collaborating on the new classes. “In addition to offering our Hub students added flexibility, we plan to use these courses to experiment and assess how we can improve the experience we offer to our undergraduate students by blending residential and distance modalities,” says Dellarocas, the Richard C. Shipley Professor in Management at the Questrom School of Business.
The three online classes are open initially only to students who fall under the Hub requirement, which began last fall and applies to the Class of 2022 and all entering freshmen going forward. On May 15, the remaining slots will be opened to BU students not in the Hub.
In addition to the Hub and DL&I, the Office of Distance Education is helping implement the courses. For information about them, consult your advisor or visit the summer school website.