Fifteen universities are exploring the creation of an online education network.

The provosts of the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago are in the early stages of creating a collaborative online network among the 15 campuses, with a focus on encouraging the colleges to imagine new ways of online learning.

Together, the universities constitute the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of research universities that have collaborated for more than 50 years.

The committee members are not strangers to online learning, with CIC universities making up 16 percent of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by MOOC provider Coursera. But the proposed collaboration is a marked shift that could position the universities themselves to create new tools, courses, and applications rather than rely on innovations rising from tech and MOOC companies.

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“To meet our objective of using online platforms to improve instructional quality, we need to harness campus creativity and expertise to rethink the underlying methods and aims of instruction,” the provosts said in a June issue paper.

The 13 provosts met last December to discuss online learning. They agreed that expanding the already existing CourseShare approach, which has so far been used by the universities to share and teach lesser-known languages, would be a good first step, according to the paper.

See Page 2 for what hurdles could stand in the way of the universities’ network.


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