Top Universities Partner with Coursera to Offer Free Online Courses

Coursera is currently making waves within the online education industry, as 12 more universities sign up to offer free online courses to students with internet access, a whole new world seems to be opening up to individuals who are looking to further their prospects in higher education. Those that are interested in these opportunities simply need to sign up for the free courses that they find appealing, and upon completion, many institutions will offer them a certificate outlining their achievement.

Universities Paving The Way In Terms Of Online Education

The universities that have recently signed up with Coursera and will begin offering a range of courses to prospective students include; The University of Illinois, Rice University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, The California Institute of Technology, The University of Washington, UC San Francisco, The Georgia Institute of Technology and the University Of Virginia. This list includes only those that have recently joined forces with Coursera in the U.S – there are also a wide range of establishments that have signed on across the globe, including the University of Edinburgh.

From Small Beginnings

Coursera was founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, both of whom taught computer sciences at Stanford, and it was introduced in April to only a handful of universities, including Princeton, Stanford and the University of Michigan. From these beginnings, however, they have quickly begun to expand and they now boast more than 125 new course offerings which span a variety of faculties, including the humanities and the sciences.

According the Andrew Ng, “technology is transforming education” and the evolving needs of students who are entering into their studies, as well as those that have graduated, are changing the way that the delivery of education should be tackled. In the past, students who could not afford to attend some of the most esteemed universities in the world had to do without – but this is all changing due to online education opportunities being offered, and with the lowered costs and flexible time schedules, students can now obtain qualifications with the names of these esteemed universities attached to them.

Combining Classes With Online Opportunities

Another benefit that could be obtained from these offerings, according to the vice provost of Caltech, Melany Hunt, is the fact that lecturers can now make use of the opportunities provided by these online courses to assist their own students in furthering their understanding of a specific subject. In many instances, students are being asked to watch a lecture online beforehand, so that they can attend class ready to partake in discussions and case studies based on the materials they have already seen. It is also benefiting those students who are struggling to keep up with the materials in class; these opportunities will allow them the chance to catch up during periods such as the summer, so that they are ready for the challenges that lie ahead when they return to the classroom.

Universities Making a Difference

In conjunction with the new courses being offered online, universities are also looking to expand on their teaching methods and the ways in which the materials are currently being presented to online students. Most universities consider these first steps as an experiment, aimed at finding their footing in the murky waters of online education. For the time being, a limited number of courses will be made available to students, but this should change over time as research is conducted into the efficiency of the courses.

The Globalization of Education

Education has so far remained a commodity that was only available to a select few, especially in terms of higher education, and Coursera, in conjunction with universities all over the world, is finally opening the doors of institutions around the world to anyone who is interested in furthering their education. It is thought that by making these options available online, students who have been held back by financial and geographic constrains no longer have to put off their dreams of furthering their education; someone halfway around the world can now enroll for a course from MIT, for example, and obtain a qualification that will help them succeed in their careers, or simply provide them with a better understanding of a specific subject. At the end, the globalization of education might have taken its time in arriving, but now that it is here, students and teachers alike are extremely positive about its future. As founder Andrew Ng states, “a professor at a top school can teach not a dozen students, but tens of thousands. This is significantly changing the economics of education.”