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online learning

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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ViDA gives students access to UW software 24/7

Wish you could access the software available on campus in the privacy of your own home? For students this spring, it’s possible! UW has adoped ViDA (Virtual Desktop Access), an online remote access software that will allow students to access both the Adobe Creative Suite and Windows 7 Enterprise from wherever there’s an internet connection.

ViDA is funded by the student technology fee, so it is a student-only service. To access it, students can log in with their UW NETID at vida.uw.edu. The site will work from a desktop browser on OS X, Windows, Linux, UNIX  or mobile device running Android, Blackberry, iOS or Windows Mobile. Keep in mind that although files can be saved locally, students should always save their work somewhere else as all files are erased upon logging off of the system.

To read more about ViDA, visit it’s UW IT page.

ViDA can be added to the list of exciting new technology UW has adopted this year, which includes Tegrity and UW WordPress Blogs.

MITx Opens Registration for its First Course

Earlier this week, MIT announced open registration for 6.002x – Circuits and Electronics, the pilot course in an online learning initiative called MITx. The initiative will allow students from all over the world to take selected MIT courses online…for free!

Student work in the courses will include viewing video tutorials, working from an etextbook, doing homework, labs, lectures and final exams. MIT hopes to make the online experience as close as possible to an actual MIT student’s experience.

This seems to be an awesome step forward in the world of open learning! We wish MITx the very best. Watch the video below to learn more about 6.002x:

Read Breaking Virtual Ground from Inside Higher Ed.

Visit the MITx website

Preventing Cheating in Distance Education

For professors, one of the big drawbacks of distance learning is the potential for a student to cheat on or plagiarize assignments for the class. Unfortunately, students sometimes feel as though they have more room to cheat in a hybrid or online course, since their professor cannot always physically see them.

The Faculty Assistance Center for Teaching (FACT) at Utah State University has put together the guide How to Prevent Cheating in Distance Education. Meant for instructors, the guide gives helpful tips on how to plan and organize your distance learning class in a way that prevents cheating and promotes learning. Here are some highlights:

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Pennsylvania Universities Add Online Arabic Degree

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is planning to add an Arabic language and culture degree program, which will be conducted fully online.

There are over 200 million Arabic speakers in the world. It goes without saying that the numbers are much smaller in the state of Pennsylvania. However, many students are eager to learn Arabic, as it’s spoken in many areas of political interest at the moment. Institutions also feel as though they needed to diversify their language offerings.

The one thing standing in the way are budget cuts. Proposing an Arabic degree at a time when languages are often the first programs to go isn’t be easy. But with the demand still present, California University of Pennsylvania managed to set up a time- and cost-saving 100% online degree in Arabic language and culture. Although it’s only offered at the California campus, PASSHE plans to make the program available at all 14 campuses in their system very soon.

Although the program is in it’s beginning stages, the overall plan is for students to participate in online courses using various communication tools (webcams, audio files, etc.) and finally ending their degree earning their final credits abroad in an Arabic-speaking country.

With the technology available now, learning a language online is significantly easier than it would have been a decade ago. Still, many argue that there are certain aspects of language learning that simply cannot be taught online. It will be interesting to see where this program goes, as it could be a great model for colleges and universities who are on a tight budget, yet wish to offer their students a broad range of courses.

The full article from Inside Higher Ed can be found here.