Edinburgh University joins US online free course provider
Edinburgh University is one of twelve leading institutions in the US and Europe who have announced they are to join an internet platform set up by two Stanford University scientists to provide free online access to classes.
The Coursera project initiative indicates a significant expansion of online teaching, and a departure from the classic tuition model - online lectures in a wide range of subjects designed by top academics are combined with assignments which are submitted. At present, the courses are being offered without charge and members of the initiative have acquired hundreds of thousands of students.
Edinburgh is to be one of the new participants, as are the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, and University of California, San Francisco in the US, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne.
Coursera co-founder, Daphne Koller, said there was a 'growing realisation that this is the real thing'. This year has seen the emergence of major US universities launching rival platforms to deliver courses online.
Edinburgh's online courses will be available alongside some of the biggest names in US higher education and Jeff Haywood, the university's vice principal, knowledge management, says that the university wanted to be 'in early' with this experiment in online education. He said there were still unresolved questions such as who will really want to use online courses - will it be people who already have qualifications in this field, rather than those currently unable to attend university? And will there need to be a mixture of on line and face-to-face learning? He concluded it was 'hard to predict where we would be in five years.'
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