Coursera, a leading massive open online course (MOOC) platform, today announced that it will be working with the University of Houston System and nine other state university systems and public university flagships to explore the possibilities of using MOOC technology and content to improve completion, quality and access to higher education.
Because of technological advances — among them, the greatly improved quality of online delivery platforms, the ability to personalize material and the capacity to analyze huge numbers of student experiences to see which approach works best — MOOCs are opening higher education to hundreds of millions of people.
The Coursera technology and content will be available to the consortium both across their combined audiences of approximately 1.25 million physically enrolled students and among Coursera’s global classroom of learners.
“Coursera is working with the most renowned and well-respected universities, and we’re excited to join with our peers in using the MOOC technology and content to improve the quality and access of our educational offerings,” said Paula Myrick Short, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Houston. “Courses developed by our National Academy of Science faculty in engineering and natural sciences should be popular MOOCs that we can offer, as well as other online courses that allow the student to self-pace instruction to achieve mastery before moving to the next topic.”
In addition to offering free, not-for-credit online courses to anyone with Internet access, the UH System will phase in courses offering college credit, opening up a potential future revenue stream.
“We will evaluate full potential of the program over the next year and move forward in a strategic way that enhances our Tier One status and student success initiatives,” Short said.
In addition to the UH System, institutions who intend to join Coursera’s network to make their own faculty and course content available online, as well as collaborate on existing content in on-campus settings, are the State University of New York (SUNY), the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee Systems, University of Colorado System, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska, University of New Mexico, University System of Georgia and West Virginia University.
At the core of these partnerships is the motivation to encourage new methods and enhance previous approaches to teaching both on-campus and online. Faculty teaching at these institutions will have the opportunity to develop online courses as well as adapt existing MOOC content, which they can then incorporate into their own classrooms. This approach allows faculty to experiment with and improve upon existing “blended learning,” which combines online video lectures and content with active, in-person classroom interactions to increase classroom engagement. Pilot programs, which will be offered at several joining institutions, will be evaluated for their effectiveness in enhancing student success.
Additionally, this collaboration opens up opportunities for institutions to consider for-credit offerings for non-matriculated students interested in continuing their education, but who might not have access to campus resources. Coursera’s platform could allow these learners the option to enroll in a MOOC developed by these institutions and, with rigorous online testing and successful completion, apply for course credit at the discretion of the institution. Moreover, faculty at other institutions may be able to access this developed course content and adapt it to suit the needs of their own students. In particular, this capability can greatly enhance high school dual enrollment programs, opening up these high-value programs even to high schools that lack instructors qualified to teach college-level content.
This partnership also opens up new channels for sharing knowledge and resources between professors, and across campuses and entire state university systems. Whether creating, modifying or adding to their curriculums, professors will have access to instructor-to-instructor interactions and discover best practices from a diverse community of education professionals. Also, by using Coursera in their teaching, professors and universities will soon be able to tap into the platform’s data analytics, which can identify learning obstacles and recognize gaps in subject matter, thus allowing professors to refocus their efforts for improved student outcomes.
"Online education will play a significant role in the future of higher education. I am pleased that the University of Houston is taking a leadership position in the field," said Dr. Joseph W. Tedesco, Dean of the Cullen College of Engineering. "The Cullen College is proud of the quality of education we provide our students and of the innovative courses and programs we offer. Through this partnership, we can make this education available to a far larger cohort than ever before."
By collaborating with institutions that span all levels of education – both public and private – and by maintaining a commitment to fostering student learning without limits, Coursera hopes to lead the movement to expand the possibilities that MOOCs and online learning can enable.
“We think the coming decade will see a transformation in the way education is delivered, where teachers and online content come together to better serve students on campus and beyond,” said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera. “With this announcement, we take a step further in our goal to expand quality education to all,” added Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera.
For more information about today’s announcement, or to sign up for Coursera, visit www.coursera.org.