Coursera prof stops teaching online course in objection to MOOCs

In an about-face highlighting the ongoing debate surrounding massive open online courses (MOOCs), a professor held up as a “star” in online learning by MOOC providers and the media has decided to cut ties with Coursera, Gigaom reports.

After reaching more than 40,000 students through his non-credit “Introduction to Sociology” MOOC — and getting the front page treatment in The New York Times — Princeton professor Mitchell Duneier told The Chronicle of Higher Education Tuesday that he will no longer teach his class out of concerns that it could undermine public higher education.

The decision reportedly came about after Coursera asked Duneier about licensing his course so that other schools could use the content for so-called blended learning experiences, which combine online and offline instruction. Earlier this summer, the startup said it had partnered with just under a dozen state schools with the goal of using MOOCs to improve educational quality and access at a lower cost.…Read More

Coursera billed as the Amazon of education

Investors in Coursera, the world’s largest massive open online course (MOOC) provider are confident the company will arrive at a sustainable business model, says its co-founder, Daphne Koller. Ms Koller, who set up Coursera last year with fellow Stanford IT professor Andrew Ng, now offers more than 400 free online courses from 84 partners which are mainly universities, Financial Review reports. In little over a year, 4.3 million students have enrolled. … Speaking to a largely academic audience, he said that the uncertainty with which MOOCs were viewed by some was the same uncertainly with which people in retail once viewed Amazon. “Amazon now has revenues greater than Woolworths in this country,” he said. Mr Koller said that, although there were currently many competitors in the MOOC market, she thought it would tend toward being winner take all. “Right now, we’re four times larger than anybody else in terms of students, 10 times larger than anybody else in terms of courses,” she said.

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More growing pains for Coursera: in another slip-up, professor departs mid-course

For the second time in less than a month, an online course on Coursera has hit a stumbling block. This weekend, the professor of a ten-week course on “Microeconomics for Managers,” offered through the University of California at Irvine Extension program, told students that he would be leaving the class after only its fifth week, Gigaom reports. “Because of disagreements over how to best to conduct this course, I’ve agreed to disengage from it, with regret,” Richard McKenzie, a professor at the University of California at Irvine’s business school, said in an open note to students. The news comes just two weeks after another slip-up for the startup, in which Coursera suspended an online class (on how to run an online class, no less) after student complaints about technical glitches and problems with the design of the class. In a statement, Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller said McKenzie was not “removed” but “elected to reduce his direct interaction with students because he’s finding it a challenging time commitment to serve such a heterogeneous population of students, with different backgrounds and different access to technology and optional course materials.”

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Commentary: Daphne Koller and the problem with Coursera

Coursera is a for-profit company that has joined with top universities to deliver free online courses. The “free” part sounds great until we realize the real intent of companies like Coursera is to transition into producing monetized, for-credit university courses, Irene Ogrizek, an English literature teacher, writes. To many academics this represents a conflict of interest that compromises the independence and integrity of higher education institutions. … The corporate world has other tentacles in education and the portal that’s granting them the most access these days is technology. In Benda’s terms, the current “realism” being foisted on academics is the idea that online distance-learning, in the form of massive online open courses (MOOCs), must be implemented to save cash-strapped institutions. The idea is being flogged by corporations looking to expand their markets and has found support among co-opted academics willing to help them. These are academics, like Lynch, who have made Faustian bargains in return for the glory of heading institutions operating in the black. … The incursion of the corporate world into education makes sense when we consider that declining disposable incomes are depriving businesses of the spenders they need to stay profitable. If people aren’t buying the goods and services that keep economies afloat then how can corporations survive?

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Do students take MOOCs to earn certificates?

Only 2 percent reported being completely dissatisfied with the course in which they enrolled.

A new report released by the University of Edinburgh shows that a majority of students who take the university’s six Coursera massive open online courses (MOOCs) do so simply to learn and have little interest in gaining a certificate.

The report, “MOOCs @ Edinburgh 2013,” is based on data collected over 10 months and answers to entry and exit surveys that were conducted before and after participants took the MOOC courses. The six MOOC courses covered philosophy, critical thinking, eLearning and digital cultures, astrobiology, artificial intelligence planning and equine nutrition.

The survey found that 95 percent of the 45,182 respondents enrolled in MOOCs to “learn new things,” while 33 percent were taking them to “get a certificate.”…Read More

Coursera at Penn surpasses one million enrollees

One million and counting. That’s the number of open online learning course enrollments Penn reached this month, less than a year after the University offered the first classes with the online learning platform Coursera, the Penn Current reports. Penn is one of the founding partners and board members of Coursera, which offers free, open-access, non-credit classes to anyone with a computer. To date, 15 Penn professors from the schools of Medicine, Arts & Sciences, Engineering and Applied Science, and Wharton have shared their knowledge with students from 162 countries around the world. Additional courses will open this summer and fall, including classes from the schools of Design, Law, and Nursing, with 23 faculty members participating. Deirdre Woods, interim executive director of Penn’s Open Learning Initiative, says the 1 million enrollments equates to about 500,000-600,000 students, since many enrollees have signed up for more than one course.

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Coursera will offer certificates for MOOC completion

Coursera is now offering Verified Certificates to students for a fee.

Coursera, a company that partners with universities to create and offer massive open online courses (MOOCs), has announced plans to offer students verified certificates for the completion of select MOOCs for a slight fee.

Students are allotted two to three weeks from the selected course’s start date to decide whether or not they would like to pay the $30 to $100 fee and become eligible for a verified certificate. Those who pay the fee are directed to Signature Track, a new program that is capable of confirming the student’s identity.

The certificates do not include credits toward a degree, but supporters say they offer proof that a student has completed a rigorous course.…Read More

Minnesota eases restrictions on online education following internet dust-up

Hey, all you colleges and universities not in Minnesota: Want to offer a free, online, not-for-credit course to people living here, no questions asked? This is your lucky day, reports. The state has stopped enforcing a 20-year-old statute requiring such institutions to go through a lengthy registration process before they could offer no-cost internet coursework. The move on Friday, Oct. 19, was prompted by an online article involving Coursera, a Silicon Valley startup that works with dozens of colleges and universities to offer some of their courses online for free. The bulk of those schools aren’t registered with Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education as current law requires, and months ago the state office informed Coursera. So Coursera amended its terms of service to reflect this, though it disagreed with Minnesota’s position and considered the requirement onerous and “unfortunate.”

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