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University of Pittsburgh Regional Campuses to Share Classes

Beginning January, students at the University of Pittsburgh’s regional campuses will be able to attend classes at different campuses without the commute.

The newly launched Video Learning Initiative will allow students at regional campuses to take classes from other University of Pittsburgh campuses using video conferencing.

Wesley Jamison, vice president of academic affairs at Pitt Greensburg, said the initiative’s goal is to allow Pitt’s regional campuses, and eventually all of Pitt’s campuses, to share courses.

“If we have an instructor doing a specialized course that isn’t available on another Pitt campus, we can enroll students from all campuses in the course,” Jamison said. “They can join an instructor and students at the originating campus over the video conferencing link and interact.”

Jamison said these classes are in “real time,” meaning students will not be able to just look up the courses on the Internet at a time that is convenient for them.

“It is a class that meets at a particular time has an instructor giving instructions, leading discussions at a particular time,” Jamison said. “The difference is that you can have students in the same room with the instructors as well as students at other campuses who are linked in over the video conferencing network.”

According to Jamison, the classrooms will have cameras, projection and video monitors to connect the students with their professor.

Jamison said they will not share classes that are already well-enrolled such as General Biology and Introductory Psychology.

“This is largely for upper level classes where the enrollment on any particular campus isn’t big and there’s capacity there to share that resource and to take advantage of expertise,” Jamison said.

Jamison said the video conferencing classes will not be less expensive than regular classes and will still have a cap on the amount of students that can take them.

“This is an effort to increase the variety to take advantage of the resources that exist in one location but not another, for the campuses to collaborate in some programs,” Jamison said.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.