Breaking New Global Ground with First Ever Online High School Courses in Turkey 

6/18/2013 
Center for Engaging the World 

This summer Westminster College in Fulton, MO breaks new global ground in the field of online study by offering the first courses in online and hybrid formats ever taught to Turkish high school students at their own school.
 
According to a new national study by The Sloan Consortium, the enrollment growth in American college online courses is outpacing those of higher education as a whole.  Nearly one third of all those enrolled in higher education today are taking at least one online class.
 
U.S.News & World Report finds more than 6.7 million college students, or 32% of those enrolled in higher education, took at least one online course during the fall 2011 semester.  This marks the 10th straight year of growth in the number of students taking courses online.
 
At the same time, the number of colleges and universities offering online classes has dramatically increased over the past decade, nearly doubling.  In 2002, just 32.5% offered online programs.  Today that percentage has grown to 62.4%.
 
From June 12-July 3, The Center for Engaging the World (CEW) at Westminster is operating a program known as the Westminster College-Bilfen Schools Undergraduate “Early Start” program at two high schools in Istanbul, Turkey. 
 
Fourteen Bilfen students are taking either an English academic writing course or an introduction to transnational and international studies course this summer.  Westminster professors Matt Murrie and Wynter Miller teach the courses online and Miller will offer a hybrid course on site with some in-class instruction.
 
Courses offered are Academic Writing and Introduction to Transnational Studies and enrolled students will receive three hours of college credit per course.
 
Courses are taught by a Westminster College professor with personalized assistance for the students from an additional American academic assistant, who is onsite.  Sara Osman, a Westminster senior from Beirut, Lebanon, is available in Turkey, working in the Westminster College-Bilfen Academic Lab at the Bilfen Schools.
 
The CEW is partnering with Bilfen to provide the learning lab at one of the two high schools where a Westminster faculty member and a Westminster student run the lab and tutor the Bilfen students as they take their courses online and in hybrid formats.
 
“This is an historic step in Westminster College’s engagement with the globe,” says Dr. Kurt Jefferson, Director of The Center for Engaging the World at Westminster, who administers the program. “And it will be a special summer academic experience for the Turkish high school students who participate.  They will be able to study on their own campus and in the privacy of their own homes.”
 
On Feb. 26, Westminster College had 29 Turkish high school students at Bilfen Schools attend a prospects meeting in Istanbul about taking one or two Westminster courses this summer. 
 
CEW leadership is already in discussion with Bilfen Schools about ways their partnership could be expanded if these initial courses prove successful.
 
Bilfen Schools is a 26-school system in Istanbul and the Westminster online high school “early start” program is a global first in the country.  Only a few other colleges and universities are operating on-line high school programs in other countries.
 
“Westminster College is truly living up to its mantra of creating ‘Leaders in a Global Community,’” says Dr. Jefferson.  “We believe that our work in Turkey will help build bridges between the United States and Turkey and allow Westminster to continue as a leader in global education.”