[caption id="attachment_50665" align="alignleft" width="150"] About 18,000 students had registered for professor Philip Zelikow's Coursera offering in history as of last week; there will be only 120 students in his course on campus.[/caption]

Tens of thousands of students have registered for new free online courses offered by the University of Virginia, though the figures could fall quickly when the teaching starts.

The university is offering six classes, with enrollments that as of last week ranged from less than 10,000 to more than 35,000. The classes, which aren't for university credit, are called MOOCs—massive open online...

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