U of M to Offer Free Courses Online

Posted at: 02/22/2013 11:18 AM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 11:31 AM
By: Brittany Falkers

The University of Minnesota is joining alongside many other big name institutions to offer free online courses.

The school will partner with Coursera, a leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, to develop free online courses as part of the university's efforts to improve teaching and learning.

"We're excited by the opportunity to explore innovative ways of using e-learning to extend the reach of University of Minnesota educational offerings across the state, nation and globe," University Provost Karen Hanson said in a press release.

Coursera launched last spring.  It provides an interactive learning experience using effective teaching strategies combined with video lectures, interactive content and global community of peers to offer students a unique online learning experience.

"This partnership will give people from around the world the opportunity to learn from the U's world-class faculty at a time when we are working harder than every to increase access to high education, reach broader audiences and strengthen our land-grant mission," Hanson said.

The Coursera platform enables professors to teach tens of hundreds of thousands of students per course.  To date, Coursera has registered more than 2.7 million users and is seeing approximately 1.45 course enrollments per month.

As of now, the university does not provide credit for the completion of MOOCs.  The school is working on a process to allow current U of M students credit for completion of U of M offerings from Coursera by integrating them with existing academic courses.

Five University of Minnesota faculty members plan to offer Coursera courses.  Faculty across other disciplines are developing additional courses to be offered beginning in the fall of 2013.

The University of Minnesota is one of four Big Ten institutions to recently join Coursera.  Northwestern University, Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin partnered with Coursera as well this week.

For more information on Coursera, visit coursera.org.