Outlier adds Astronomy and Statistics classes to its online university

You can get college credit at Pitt or Florida Poly now.

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We’re in the throes of a deadly pandemic, and there’s not much time before everyone’s expected to get back to school. That’s why it’s fortunate that home-learning startup Outlier.org is adding two more classes to its burgeoning roster of college courses. Today, you’ll be able to sign up for Introduction to Astronomy and Introduction to Statistics, with the same offer of real-world credit as before.

Outlier.org was set up by Masterclass co-founder Aaron Rasmussen with the same model of celebrity-video lessons, but with a stronger academic focus. It launched last year with two courses on Calculus and Psychology fronted by star instructors like Hannah Fry and Marjorie Rhodes. Now, you’ll get the courses on Astronomy and Statistics, shot in the same glossy format, available for $400 a pop.

Due to the pandemic, both of the new courses were filmed by the instructors themselves, admittedly on Outlier’s high-quality gear. The equipment was set up by the academics with remote guidance from the production team, although you wouldn’t know it given the glossy trailer. Outlier.org is also experimenting with rolling cohorts, with classes beginning every two weeks to help group students.

Outlier.org already had a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh but it’s also now teamed up with Florida Polytechnic University. It piloted an Outlier program in the summer, and is expanding that -- with its own credit offerings -- for the fall semester. This may be a peek at the future of education for colleges that want to offer courses outside of their core competency without a lot of extra effort. 

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