Into the Fray
Jul 17, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

So this has been all over the news today - "A dozen more universities have signed partnerships with Coursera, a company that provides hosting services for massively open online courses (MOOCs)." These include the California Institute of Technology, Duke University, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, Edinburgh, Illinois, Toronto and Washington.


I gave my own reaction in this audio interview for Converge magazine. I note that, in addition to content, universities provide two key elements: first, practice and activities in the domain in question; and second, immersion into a community of practitioners associated with that domain. It is the former that characterizes the x-MOOCs (like Coursera) and the latter that characterizes c-MOOCs (like CCK08). But eventually the models will merge, at which point we see significant pressure on the traditional university model (but a great deal more access for individual learners).


Seb Schmoller writes: "Don't be put off by the slightly stodgy tone in parts of this just-released promotional video from the University of Edinburgh about www.ed.ac.uk/moocs. Instead, listen carefully to what Stanford's Daphne Koller has to say about scale and formative assessment in Coursera's new "breed" of free on-line courses, as well as to the comments from Vice-Principal Jeff Haywood about Edinburgh University's approach to quality assurance. [See also coverage by BBC, Guardian, The Times Higher.]" Meanwhile, Mark Guzdial passes along the email sent to all staff at Georgia Tech last night.


Related: this interview with Sebastian Thrun and David Evans called Udacity: Teaching Online, an online university that came about almost by chance. Lynn Zimmermann summarizes: "William Bennet, in an interview with Thrun for CNN, “asked Thrun whether his enterprise and others like it will be the end of higher education as we know it — exclusive enclaves for a limited number of students at high tuitions? I think it’s the beginning of higher education, Thrun replied. It’s the beginning of higher education for everybody." Exactly - that's the point of the whole exercise (for me, at least).

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Comments

Re: Into the Fray

Can someone explain to me that

why these universities join to Coursera for a small fee
Why these universities do not join on their own to MITx+Harvardx partnership which is more respectable and also makes better money and less conditions .

As a student I would never go to Coursera while there is MITx and Harvardx and Stanford x on this side . [Comment] [Permalink]



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