MOOCs | News

Coursera Gets Access to 1.25 Million New Users Across 10 State Universities

In what is becoming a MOOCs arms race, Coursera has just released the latest salvo with the news that 10 additional universities and university systems will be tapping its massive open online courses and its instruction platform. The news comes in the same month when edX announced the addition of 15 universities to its MOOC program.

Coursera is one of several MOOC operators that deliver free online instruction to people, all of it developed by faculty within institutions of higher education. The courses, which follow specific schedules, include video sessions as well as quizzes, peer-graded assignments, and interaction via discussion forums among classmates and instructional people. Anybody can sign up for the online courses.

In the latest announcement the new university additions will be delivering course material to Coursera and using existing content from the site in their courses. The intent, according to a statement from the company, is to "explore the possibilities of using MOOC technology and content to improve completion, quality, and access to higher education."

The new participants, representing 1.25 million enrolled students, encompass:

Instructors within the universities will be able to develop online courses for inclusion on Coursera and adapt existing content from faculty at other schools to use in their own classes as a form of "blended" or "hybrid" instruction. Usage may also expand to include high school students in dual-enrollment programs. As part of participation, instructors will be able to review data analytics generated by the use of Coursera software; that information may be able to pinpoint learning obstacles and gaps in subject matter, to enable faculty to evolve their instruction.

Several of the new participants report that they'll be running pilot programs to understand the impact of the new offerings on student success.

The company reported it expects to see some of the institutions consider offering credit to people who aren't enrolled as regular students as a new form of continuing education; what needs to be worked out in those cases is how to handle testing and prove successful completion

"This new partnership with Coursera will be invaluable as we launch Open SUNY, which will give our students increased access to the online courses SUNY faculty offer in New York and worldwide," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. "Working with Coursera presents a fantastic opportunity for higher education systems across the country to increase educational access, instructional quality and exposure, and degree completion. We are proud to be a part of this effort and look forward to getting started."

"Major state university systems represent an important opportunity to use MOOCs in blended course settings and to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning," added Michael Lightner, professor and chair of U Colorado, Boulder's Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering. "This partnership of Coursera and major university systems is an important step in bringing MOOC courses into mainstream institutions, as well as expanding the community of excellent educators providing MOOC courses to the world."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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