What’s the latest? Two Stanford University computer scientists will announce next week that a dozen major research universities are joining their start-up venture called Coursera. The two founders, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng reported in the New York Times on 7/17/2012 that “the partners will include the California Institute of Technology; Duke University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Johns Hopkins University; Rice University; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the University of Washington; and the University of Virginia, where the debate over online education was cited in last’s month’s ousting — quickly overturned — of its president, Teresa A. Sullivan. Foreign partners include the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the University of Toronto and EPF Lausanne, a technical university in Switzerland.”
What I found most interesting was that even before the expansion, the founders of Coursera, said it had registered 680,000 students in 43 courses with its original partners, Michigan, Princeton, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.
Of course the biggest news to me was that some of these institutions will offer credits instead of simply a certificate of participation or completion. That could be the game-changer when student debt for on-premise education is starting to approach a median home purchase in an upscale neighborhood. That huge cost always worried me. It seemed like it would eventually become a barrier to innovation and growth.
Our thanks goes out to Sebastian Thrun who taught the artificial intelligence course last year at Stanford that drew over 100,000 registrations. Surely he deserves the title of “Father of the MOOC’s.”