It seems that every week, a new open course program is established and announced. We aren’t complaining though–these open courses are revolutionary for education and provide opportunities for students around the world. But Coursera.org, a new site, sets itself apart from the others.
Officially launched on April 18th, Coursera is the middle ground between online institutions and prestigious 4-year universities. Instead of offering online courses for credit at a high cost or offering free lectures for no credit, Coursera is aiming to provide for-credit courses for under $100. Upon its launch, Coursera offered 40 courses in various subjects and have since had over one million students enroll. Additionally, students will earn a certificate of completion upon passing the course(s).
Through Coursera, students may watch lectures, take exams, and ask questions. The lectures and course materials are created and prepared by instructors at participating institutions: with top contributors including Princeton, Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. Coursera is working on tools to make students less likely to cheat on exams, to make sure the certificate of completion is legitimate and reflects real learning. Questions students have are posted, then up-voted and answered by other students or instructors.
In the world of higher education, costs of attendance are rising rapidly. Face-to-face education excludes those who cannot afford it, so it’s great that alternative options are beginning to pop up. Everyone deserves a chance at an education, and organizations like Coursera are helping to make that statement a reality. One has to wonder if, in coming years, these low-cost online courses will evolve to become a popular option for education-seeking students.
We look forward to seeing how Coursera will operate and influence future organizations like it.
Full article from the New York Times available here.