First online course for undergraduates to be launched for summer session


Heream Yang

This summer, students seeking to earn Vanderbilt credit from off campus locations will be able to enroll in a new for-credit online course, ENGM 3100: Finance and Accounting for Engineers. This 6-week course will be headed by Professor David Berezov, who regularly teaches the class on campus.

The purpose of this online course is to offer greater flexibility to Vanderbilt’s undergraduate community and will exclusively be offered to Vanderbilt students, according to Professor John Sloop, Associate Provost for Digital Learning, and Dr. Gayathri Narasimham, Associate Director of Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, both of whom played a critical role in the ideation and execution of the course.

“Although we have some degree programs now that are largely online, we had done very little experimentation directly with online courses for our undergraduate population,” Sloop said. “Vanderbilt is very dedicated to our full-time students, so the question was, how can our full time undergraduate students benefit from the work that we’ve been doing? We thought it would be interesting to experiment with an online summer school course that could be taken by undergraduates not able to be on campus, so we reached out to the associate deans for courses that students might need, and Finance and Accounting for Engineers was highly recommended. This is our attempt to see if online courses are something that would benefit our undergraduate population and help them move towards their degree with more efficiency while freeing up their time in other areas.”

The course will be broken down into multiple modules and consist of video lectures, graded online assignments and midterm exams, which will be proctored through LockDown Browser, a program that temporarily limits other computer functions to prevent cheating. Students will have access to a calculator and modified excel program on LockDown Browser. Two digital textbooks will be required for the class, one of which is a standard eTextbook, and the other which is an interactive online textbook that offers multiple options for individualized practice through MindTap, including concept quizzes that allow students to delve as deep into the material as they would like. An adaptive test bank will be available for students to select particular sections for extra practice.

“Some students will begin the course already understanding some of the content, so there are many exercises they will not have to do,” Berezov said. “On the other hand, some students will have to concentrate on certain skill sets and there is a tremendous amount of content to help them practice on their own with interactive feedback, which is the most important aspect of an online course and should help fill the gap of not being in class.”

In addition to the interactive features available on MindTap, additional content support will be available through Berezov, who will host live office hours online.

“I will be stationed near a computer throughout the entire course and I’m pretty good about getting back to students, so there will be support along the way,” Berezov said.

Should students run into any technical difficulties with Brightspace, the Center for Teaching will be available to troubleshoot and handle any issues.  

The online course is flexible enough for students pursuing internships or other professional opportunities over the summer. Exams will be open for a period of several days.

“Students will be able to progress through the course in a number of ways,” Berezov said. “Some students will work for an hour or two each evening to complete the online course. Others will get jammed up during the week and prefer to put in 6 to 10 hours during the weekend.”

In addition to scheduling flexibility, students can take advantage of accessibility features such as close captioning and transcripts for lecture videos. The etextbook includes audio features that will read the text aloud.