Coursera Offers Free Online College Courses From Top-Tier Universities

Last week, Coursera announced that it will be offering over 100 massive open online courses (MOOCs) from major universities across the country this fall. Continue reading “Coursera Offers Free Online College Courses From Top-Tier Universities” »

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Last week, Coursera announced the expansion of its free course offerings to include 12 new universities.

Coursera is a free online learning platform, now offering over 100 massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are revolutionizing student accessibility to prestigious schools by removing the financial barriers. Quoting the Coursera website:

“We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students. Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

To date, 700,000 students from 190 countries have participated in classes on Coursera, with more than 1.6 million total course enrollments. On the day that these new universities were announced, registration for the free courses garnered 14,000 new enrollments. MOOCs offer no credit, just a “statement of accomplishment” and a grade; however, University of Washington plans to offer credit for its Coursera offerings this fall (in exchange for a fee). It is expected that other institutions will follow suit.

Coursera was created by Stanford University computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, who also developed the university’s first online education platform. The duo spent years developing a technology capable of granting access to hundreds of thousands of students, instead of just a few dozen at a time. Andrew Ng recently taught a class online that had 100,000 students. To reach that number of students, Ng explained, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Students can now sign up for courses and get homework deadlines, with courses ranging from 4 to 12 weeks in length. Online materials are broken down into manageable bits, with short video segments and interactive quizzes. When students need help on homework, they can submit a question on the social Q&A community forums, which are built into the platform. The median response time is 22 minutes, which is much faster than an email response from a professor would take. For courses that are not easily graded by a computer, Coursera has adopted a student peer review process to give accurate feedback.

Course offerings are available from the following areas:

  • Biology & Life Sciences
  • Computer Science: Programming & Software Engineering
  • Economics & Finance
  • Health and Society & Medical Ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics, Data Analysis, and Scientific Computing
  • Business & Management
  • Computer Science: Systems, Security, Networking
  • Education
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Medicine and Veterinary Science
  • Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Vision
  • Computer Science: Theory
  • Electrical and Materials Engineering
  • Information, Technology, and Design
  • Physical & Earth Sciences
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