Announced yesterday. The main points seem to be:  enrollment for credit, a coalition of schools merging curriculum in some way, and some kind of real-time virtual classroom.

“Students from all over the country, or even from abroad, will be able to attend these online classes in real time — classes of about 15 to 20 students taught by professors at some of the nation’s leading universities,” said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern University provost.

Besides Northwestern, consortium members include Brandeis University, Duke University, Emory University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University and Washington University in St. Louis.

“These courses will expand curricular options for students and will enable consortium schools to work collaboratively to develop the most innovative and successful ways to utilize new learning technologies,” Northwestern Provost Linzer said.

Initial Semester Online courses will feature primarily the same faculty and curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with additional courses designed for the online format to be included in the future. Through a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, students will participate in discussions and exercises, attend lectures and collaborate with peers while guided by renowned professors — engaging in as close to the on-campus class experience that is currently possible online.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Semester Online will be available to academically qualified students attending consortium schools as well as other top schools across the country. Information about Semester Online courses and the application process will be available in early 2013. The consortium anticipates adding a small number of institutions prior to next year’s launch.

The website for Semester Online is back there.

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