It marks the first time that Well Engaged, the maker of online community software, has jumped into the education market, a sign of industry growth. For universities such as Golden Gate, based in San Francisco, the online medium offers an opportunity to greatly expand its student population. Competition among universities for students can be keen. Golden Gate University has some 6,300 students.
Universities such as the state school system in New York offer online learning, but the trend also extends to companies such as Digital Think, a start-up financed by Hambrecht & Quist, Adobe, and Texas Instruments dedicated to online learning.
The CyberCampus is expected to offer 100 courses within a year. This fall, 11 courses will be offered. An undergraduate course in English costs $960, while a graduate course in computer information systems costs $1,404. Study lasts from 5 to 15 weeks.
The university already has held an online pilot program. "We have seen a marked increase in student interaction and involvement in the CyberCampus, compared to a traditional classroom environment," said Americ Azevedo, senior consultant and assistant professor at Golden Gate.
Online eduction remains controversial, however, as many educators and students worry whether the lack of in-person interaction compromises the learning experience.
Many companies also are turning to online education to train their workers.
Well Engaged spun off from The Well in September 1996. It typically licenses its Web discussion software to the media, e-commerce, and entertainment markets.