Postsecondary Learning

Ten State Higher Ed Programs Adopt Coursera

By Betsy Corcoran     May 30, 2013

Ten State Higher Ed Programs Adopt Coursera

Here's a question worth laying odds on: In what year willthe number of college freshman who take at least one class online exceed thenumber who do not?

Smart money says that year isn't far off.

Ten state university programs, which collectively educate 1.25 millionstudents, said today that they were aligning themselves with online MOOC andeducation platform, Coursera. "What's different about this is thescale," declares Houston Davis, the chief academic officer for theUniversity of Georgia. 

Large public state institutions serve about 70 percent ofAmerican students, notes Daphne Koller, cofounder of Coursera. "Thisagreement is a way of giving institutions access to pedagogy and infrastructurethat can help them better serve their students," she says. 

The school systems are part of today's announcement include:

  • State University of New York (SUNY)
  • Tennessee Board of Regents
  •  University of Tennessee Systems
  •  University of Colorado System
  •  University of Houston System
  •  University of Kentucky
  •  University of Nebraska
  • University of New Mexico
  • University System of Georgia
  • West Virginia University

Leaders ofthe school systems suggest that they are still knee-deep in experimenting withusing online courses to extend and supplement what they do on campus. 

The 64college and university campuses that are home to 468,000 students in the State University of New Yorkprogram, for instance, have offered some kind of online class for almost adecade, points outCarey Hatch, SUNY's assistant provost for academictechnology and instructional services. During last academic year (2011-12),more than 20 percent of the students (or 87,000 individual students) took an online class;most of them signed up for more than two such classes, he says.Similarly George state universities have also offered online programs for abouta decade.

Provosts atboth school systems said they expect to use the Coursera platform to offer afew "traditional MOOCs," or large, free classes. They also expecttheir schools will "consume" or use content and classes created byothers. But what also intrigues them is how their faculty and schools may useCoursera's platform to create "foundation classes," or required corecurriculum, says Hatch. He cautioned that only a handful of SUNY institutionsmay create Coursera material for this coming fall.

EventuallyHatch also expects that faculty will explore how to extend classes from theSUNY community colleges to high schools. "Coursera gives us a way to rallyaround a platform" and better coordinate efforts, he adds.

"We'reseeing a lot of institutions use Coursera as a way to improve the quality andcapabilities within their own institutions," Koller adds. Instead ofrequiring hundreds of instructors to prepare materials "from scratch"every year, she says, schools may encourage faculty to dip into programsavailable on Coursera--either from their own institution or from elsewhere--andcreate their own blended learning model that combines both on-campus and onlinework.

Coursera hasmade it easy for universities to say yes: It does not require the schools toput money on the table, instead only charging them for the content they use or offer via the Coursera platform.

Working with stateinstitutions that will the course material to teacher both large and small classes offers fresh challenges for Coursera, too, Koller says. Supporting thousands ofstudents in a MOOC does not, for instance, require a professor to keep aconventional gradebook. By contrast, "when you're teaching on campus, youneed a grade book. That's something we'll build more functionality tosupport," she adds. 

Even so withthese partnership, Coursera moves a step closer to its goal of making highquality education affordable and accessible to a broader array of students,Koller adds.

As for that turning point year: We'd put it at 2015. How about you?

Postsecondary Learning

Ten State Higher Ed Programs Adopt Coursera

By Betsy Corcoran     May 30, 2013

Ten State Higher Ed Programs Adopt Coursera

Here's a question worth laying odds on: In what year willthe number of college freshman who take at least one class online exceed thenumber who do not?

Smart money says that year isn't far off.

Ten state university programs, which collectively educate 1.25 millionstudents, said today that they were aligning themselves with online MOOC andeducation platform, Coursera. "What's different about this is thescale," declares Houston Davis, the chief academic officer for theUniversity of Georgia. 

Large public state institutions serve about 70 percent ofAmerican students, notes Daphne Koller, cofounder of Coursera. "Thisagreement is a way of giving institutions access to pedagogy and infrastructurethat can help them better serve their students," she says. 

The school systems are part of today's announcement include:

  • State University of New York (SUNY)
  • Tennessee Board of Regents
  •  University of Tennessee Systems
  •  University of Colorado System
  •  University of Houston System
  •  University of Kentucky
  •  University of Nebraska
  • University of New Mexico
  • University System of Georgia
  • West Virginia University

Leaders ofthe school systems suggest that they are still knee-deep in experimenting withusing online courses to extend and supplement what they do on campus. 

The 64college and university campuses that are home to 468,000 students in the State University of New Yorkprogram, for instance, have offered some kind of online class for almost adecade, points outCarey Hatch, SUNY's assistant provost for academictechnology and instructional services. During last academic year (2011-12),more than 20 percent of the students (or 87,000 individual students) took an online class;most of them signed up for more than two such classes, he says.Similarly George state universities have also offered online programs for abouta decade.

Provosts atboth school systems said they expect to use the Coursera platform to offer afew "traditional MOOCs," or large, free classes. They also expecttheir schools will "consume" or use content and classes created byothers. But what also intrigues them is how their faculty and schools may useCoursera's platform to create "foundation classes," or required corecurriculum, says Hatch. He cautioned that only a handful of SUNY institutionsmay create Coursera material for this coming fall.

EventuallyHatch also expects that faculty will explore how to extend classes from theSUNY community colleges to high schools. "Coursera gives us a way to rallyaround a platform" and better coordinate efforts, he adds.

"We'reseeing a lot of institutions use Coursera as a way to improve the quality andcapabilities within their own institutions," Koller adds. Instead ofrequiring hundreds of instructors to prepare materials "from scratch"every year, she says, schools may encourage faculty to dip into programsavailable on Coursera--either from their own institution or from elsewhere--andcreate their own blended learning model that combines both on-campus and onlinework.

Coursera hasmade it easy for universities to say yes: It does not require the schools toput money on the table, instead only charging them for the content they use or offer via the Coursera platform.

Working with stateinstitutions that will the course material to teacher both large and small classes offers fresh challenges for Coursera, too, Koller says. Supporting thousands ofstudents in a MOOC does not, for instance, require a professor to keep aconventional gradebook. By contrast, "when you're teaching on campus, youneed a grade book. That's something we'll build more functionality tosupport," she adds. 

Even so withthese partnership, Coursera moves a step closer to its goal of making highquality education affordable and accessible to a broader array of students,Koller adds.

As for that turning point year: We'd put it at 2015. How about you?

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