150K participated in free online courses at UVa – The Daily Progress

Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013 10:32 pm

150K participated in free online courses at UVa

Associated Press |

University of Virginia officials say their first round of worldwide free online classes were such a success that they’ll increase the offerings.

More than 150,000 took the university’s five free courses this year on the Coursera online network. At least nine classes have been firmed up for the next year — three repeated classes and six new entries — and others are possible, Kristin Palmer, UVa director of online learning environments, told The Virginian-Pilot.

Popular professor Larry Sabato, who also serves as director for the school’s Center for Politics, will teach a class on President John F. Kennedy’s legacy 50 years after his assassination. It is timed to coincide with the publication of his book on Kennedy.

UVa is the only university in the state among more than 65 participating in Coursera, based in Mountain View, Calif. Others include Duke, Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The school doesn’t get any money for the classes, and those who take them do not receive college credit.

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Coursera’s “massive open online classes,” known as MOOCs, consist of videos, which can be viewed for free. Professors usually don’t have to grade quizzes, but many participate in discussion forums with students.

Michael Lenox, one of three business school professors who provided Coursera classes, estimated there were more than 50,000 “active participants,” including a study group in Mongolia, in his “Foundations of Business Strategy” course.

Philip Zelikow blended the Coursera and UVa versions of his course on “The Modern World: Global History Since 1760.” He required the 80 students in his Charlottesville class to view the Coursera lectures. During what would have been their lecture times, they engaged in discussions on the material.

About 411,000 students signed up for the five Coursera classes combined, Palmer said, with about 157,000 actively looking at the content.

She said it cost about $3,000 for each hour of video. Lenox’s business class, for instance, had six 60-minute videos.

The downside, she said, was that there was more investment needed by faculty and staff than they had expected.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013 10:32 pm.