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UW, other universities, join Coursera to offer Free and Low-Cost Online Courses

courseraAn article in today’s Seattle Times announces that the University of Washington along with nine other universities will be partnering with Coursera, an online start-up that specializes in offering free online university courses to anyone that wants to take a class. We’ve blogged about Coursera recently when the start-up first launched with its new business model of providing low-cost and free online courses for credits. Its proponents have picked up momentum in terms of partnering with a number of top-tier universities and its increasing number of offerings seem promising. Currently, students who sign up for a course on Coursera will have to commit certain blocks of time to completing assignments as well as interacting with other students. Quizzes are embedded with the course material online and data is consistently analyzed by the course system to see how students approach each question to solve it.

Addressing concerns over whether online courses would be as rigorous as a traditional course, David Szatmary, the vice provost for online learning at the UW,  said that students “are being held to the same academic standards we require in our institutions” and that “Coursera is working only with top-tier institutions”. UW Computer Science professor Ed Lazowska also remarked that “Coursera courses from many universities will be woven into UW offerings one day, with students taking the classes online as homework and coming into a classroom for practice and discussions.”

It will be interesting to see how this project progresses especially with the UW now involved. We look forward to seeing future developments.

Coursera & New Open Education

It seems that every week, a new open course program is established and announced. We aren’t complaining though–these open courses are revolutionary for education and provide opportunities for students around the world. But Coursera.org, a new site, sets itself apart from the others.

Officially launched on April 18th, Coursera is the middle ground between online institutions and prestigious 4-year universities. Instead of offering online courses for credit at a high cost or offering free lectures for no credit, Coursera is aiming to provide for-credit courses for under $100. Upon its launch, Coursera offered 40 courses in various subjects and have since had over one million students enroll. Additionally, students will earn a certificate of completion upon passing the course(s).

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