You can earn college credit by watching The History Channel?
Well, sort of.
A partnership between the History Channel and the University of Oklahoma has developed a 16-week, 3-credit college online course called “United States, 1865 to the Present.” It emphasizes the History Channel’s multimedia archives so that students can visualize U.S. history rather than simply reading it.
One of the best things about this unique partnership is the price. High school or university students can enroll in the course for $500, which allows their credits to transfer. Non-students can enroll for $250, allowing them to participate in the learning but without the accreditation.
Compared to other college courses–either online or traditional classroom-based–that’s fairly inexpensive. My college offers a handful of two-week online intensive courses during winter break. The price tag: roughly $3,500. Classes at community colleges and state universities are often cheaper, but the discrepancy is remarkable.
A University of Oklahoma professor runs the course, so it isn’t as simple as watching a few History Channel clips and getting college credit, but it definitely is a step towards making education more accessible (both physically and financially) to a larger population of people. Both parties are already working on developing future courses.
This partnership is beneficial to professors, who often struggle to find multimedia materials that are free and legal to use. It also brings more attention to the History Channel and sponsors their creation and distribution of educational programs. I love the idea behind the whole arrangement.
On the other hand, I worry when private companies become entangled in education. While the History Channel/University of Oklahoma connection is almost certainly designed for students’ best interests, other connections might not be.
What if this is the future of TV? As channels compete with YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix for viewership, they may turn to educational fields. What if Lifetime sponsors women’s studies courses? What if Telemundo sponsors Spanish classes? What if Fox sponsors journalism classes? Involvement of big TV channels in college courses may affect the goal of unbiased, interdisciplinary education.
It’s still too early in the connection between TV and higher education to know the possible implications of that relationship. In the mean time, students are excited about the benefits and resources of the innovative partnership between the History Channel and the University of Oklahoma.
Interested in how media and learning interact? Here’s my post about how YouTube is changing sex education.