Coursera is a higher educational platform which has quickly been gaining ground within the world of online learning. As of last week, the platform will have partnered with another 17 institutions, and this includes Vanderbilt University. Counting the new additions, this means that 33 establishments can now call themselves partners of Coursera. The large number of institutions that have signed up with the platform means that there are an even wider variety of courses available online; students can now opt for classes ranging from engineering to poetry. Since these MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are free to anyone with a computer and internet connection, this means that they are not limited to an elite few, and this is what is going to change the face of education completely.
What Vanderbilt Had to Say about the Partnership
According to the chair of the Committee on Social Media, professor John Sloop, the university has a responsibility to share the knowledge that is has beyond the scope of the students on campus. He stated that, “It’s about the students who go here, but Vanderbilt wants to offer something back to the world.” Another chair on the committee, Professor Jay Clayton, was asked about what finally persuaded the institution to partner up with Coursera, and he answered that the aim was “To bring Vanderbilt-caliber instruction to tens of thousands of people – young and old – who will never be able to come to our wonderful university themselves.”
Enriching the Classroom Experience
This new venture into the world of online learning is not simply about providing students all over the world with the chance to take classes from some of the most renowned institutions in the world; it is also about enriching the experiences of students that are attending the establishment. The idea of the “flipped” classroom might be new, but professors are very excited about what it can accomplish within their own classrooms; by using the online video lectures as a source of information at home, students can come to class with a sound knowledge of the material that needs to be discussed and debated. No longer does class time have to be wasted on lengthy lectures.
Supporting the New Initiative
At this point in time, all of the staff members within the university have been very supportive about the new move to online education. As professor Sloop puts it, “I’m really excited! …but we are being cautious. We’re starting with five courses and not, say, 500.”