Distributed Learning: 'PennAdvance' in Place for High School Students

Through live satellite broadcasts and Internet and video conferencing, gifted high school students all over the country can now take Penn courses without leaving home--in real time, interacting with their professors, their TAs, and fellow students in other cities where the University has launched PennAdvance in collaboration with Sylvan Learning Systems.

The first class was held Saturday, October 3, with students enrolled in eight metropolitan areas--Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Richmond (VA) and Washington, D.C. The classes meet on ten Saturdays, with on-line discussion participation and research activities required during the week. Nearly a third of the 50 students enrolled are receiving partial scholarship support from Penn.

SAS is offering two PennAdvance courses this semester in collaboration with Sylvan Academy, a division of Sylvan Learning Systems which focuses on academically talented youth, and its affiliated electronic classroom facilities, the Caliber Learning Centers, where the lectures are received. This term's two offerings are:

  • Humans in the Natural World, team-taught by a Penn anthropologist, Dr. Alan Mann, with Emory's Dr. Michelle Lampl, who is also in pediatric medicine at Emory; and
  • Calculus for the Natural Sciences, taught by Dr. Dennis DeTurck of mathematics at Penn.

Through SAS, PennAdvance students will earn a transcript bearing University of Pennsylvania credit on successful completion of a one-semester course.

"Participating students will experience a rigorous academic program, as is true in any Penn undergraduate course," said Interim Provost Michael L. Wachter. "In launching these initiatives, Penn affirms that in distributed learning, as in our more traditional programs, we must retain our position as the institution of choice for the very best students. PennAdvance allows talented high school students to take courses from some of Penn's outstanding faculty. This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for the students and a terrific new teaching tool for Penn." PennAdvance is the second major distributed learning initiative the Provost's Office has announced in the last six months. The first, Wharton Direct, also offered in collaboration with Caliber Learning Systems, is a distributed learning program which targets business executives and leads to a certificate from Wharton.

For more on PennAdvance: call (215) 898-3109; e-mail advance@sas.upenn.edu or visit the website, www.advance.upenn.edu.

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 7, October 13, 1998