Atlanta’s own Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University are the latest universities to join a growing revolution in higher education by offering online courses to anyone anywhere for free.
Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. They see a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. The have technology that enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
From Coursera’s website:
Classes offered on Coursera are designed to help you master the material. When you take one of our classes, you will watch lectures taught by world-class professors, learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. When you join one of our classes, you’ll also join a global community of thousands of students learning alongside you. We know that your life is busy, and that you have many commitments on your time. Thus, our courses are designed based on sound pedagogical foundations, to help you master new concepts quickly and effectively. Key ideas include mastery learning, to make sure that you have multiple attempts to demonstrate your new knowledge; using interactivity, to ensure student engagement and to assist long-term retention; and providing frequent feedback, so that you can monitor your own progress, and know when you’ve really mastered the material.
We offer courses in a wide range of topics, spanning the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and many others. Whether you’re looking to improve your resume, advance your career, or just learn more and expand your knowledge, we hope there will be multiple courses that you find interesting.
This is a trend that has been growing. Apple has been offering free college course materials and lectures in iTunes for some time now.
“It’s hard to imagine a better way to affect more people, to influence their thinking on a subject,” said Professor Tucker Balch, who’s the first at Georgia Tech to videotape his lectures, then post them online.
Balch’s course, Computational Investing, is the first of a series of courses that Tech plans to offer through an online company called Coursera.
More than 30 other top universities, including Stanford, Duke and Princeton, have already signed on with Coursera
Some unbelievable fact include that more than 46,000 students registered for Balch’s class, that’s more than twice the entire student enrollment at Tech.
It turns out people want to learn, and the students are young and old, and registrations come from all over the globe.
Every course is free with homework and tests that are graded by peers.
Students who pass the Tech course get a certificate.
Georgia Tech, Emory, and the other schools involved get worldwide attention they couldn’t pay for.
Balch sees real potential with this way of learning.
“I’m normally used to teaching in front of 20 to 100 students,” Prof. Balch said. “Now I look into a camera and pretend that they’re there.”
Right now, the classed offered aren’t a substitute for getting a college degree, although students can gain credit for them. But in the future, more and more students might decide to swap the campus for the computer and internet courses.
Technology has made this process a reality and more is possible.