An 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.
Recently, faculty across all three campuses of the University of Washington piloted the new Canvas LMS as part of the Teaching & Learning in the 21st Century Initiative. Part of the desire to initiate this pilot involves addressing the myriad of different online tools used at the three campuses and individual departments. Currently, the tools in use at UW vary greatly from the Catalyst Web Tools that are available to all instructors to Blackboard on the Bothell and Tacoma campus and the Foster Business School as well as Moodle which is used by some departments on the Seattle campus. It is hoped that the introduction of the Canvas LMS will help simplify the number of tools in use while providing the same functionality and more advanced features.
Overall the responses to the Canvas pilot has been positive with 79% of faculty and students saying tat they would recommend Canvas to others and 73% of faculty agreeing that Canvas made teaching more efficient. Both faculty and students also indicated that they favored using Canvas over other LMS’s they had used before such as Blackboard and Moodle. More data is available on the announcement page.
While it is expected that some departments will be migrating to Canvas as soon as Autumn Quarter 2012, we will still offer Blackboard on the Bothell campus for a little while longer in addition to Canvas. Learning Technologies is also working on developing tutorials for faculty and students on using Canvas which will be available on our website once they are finished. To learn more about UW Canvas, see the UW Canvas Portal.
In a recently published paper by the University of Minnesota, researchers looked at how different designs and implementations of distance education courses affected student learning and satisfaction in these courses. The study involved identifying three different types of interaction in these courses: Student-Student, Student-Teacher, and Student Contact.
Student-Student (SS) interaction consists of individual students or groups of students working together in both dynamic technologies such as video conferencing or static technologies such as discussion boards.
Student-Teacher (ST) interaction also uses many of the same technologies involved in SS interaction in distance learning. Face-to-face interaction is also observed under both SS and ST.
Student-Content (SC) interaction is defined as “reading informational texts, using study guides,watching videos, interacting with computer-based multimedia, using simulations, or usingcognitive support software (e.g. statistical software), searching for information, completing assignments, and working on projects”.
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).
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.