Free online courses offered by the University of Illinois are a big hit worldwide. How big?
Repeat: Fourteen-thousand students signed up on launch day. Read the July 19 Tribune article here.
These U. of I. (at Urbana-Champaign) courses are called MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses.
MOOC programs typically do not award college credit, though some offer certificates for completion of course work. (In a recent move, the University of Washington reportedly is working on a plan to offer credit for some MOOC courses, for a fee.)
The following are examples of MOOCs (and variations of MOOCs):
- Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) formed a nonprofit partnership, known as edX, which offers a certificate for completion of their free MOOC courses.
- Coursera is another such MOOC venture that involves University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Stanford and Princeton and other institutions.
- Udacity , co-founded by Sebastian Thrun of Stanford, is yet another massive online course venture.
What types of courses are being offered?
At University of Illinois, for example, free courses include Introduction to Sustainability; Heterogeneous Parallel Programming; Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps; Intermediate Organic Chemistry; Planet Earth, and others.
Also, check out the Ted Talk by Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera. Koller makes the point that MOOCs provide unprecedented, huge data sets that allow researchers another method to study how students learn. See her TED TALK here.
It’s your turn. What are your thoughts about this experiment in higher education? Leave your comments below.