Wise said she’s not concerned about free online classes replacing the on-campus experience, where students can interact with faculty and students and learn life skills outside the classroom. The university’s Springfield campus was at the forefront of online education and is considered a leader in the field.

“There is nothing that replaces a real campus experience for most of the students,” Wise said, “and we will continue to serve those students the best way we can.”

Officials from Rice University, among the schools that partnered with Coursera this week, said joining the MOOC movement would be vital for universities committed to expanding online course options.

“We’re very excited to be on the ground floor of this,” said Rice President David Leebron. “The landscape of higher education is changing dramatically. First, more people are seeking low-cost and free access and, at the same time, we see ways modern technology can enhance the educational experience for our students.”

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