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07/17/2012 10:00:00

Caltech Expands Online Learning Opportunities with Coursera

This morning, Caltech became one of the dozen new schools to join the online learning platform Coursera.

Founded in the fall of 2011 by Stanford computer-science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng to bring course content online for free, Coursera initially offered 43 classes from four partner schools: Stanford, Penn, Princeton, and the University of Michigan. Since its founding, Coursera has been visited by over 680,000 students from 190 countries and has had more than 1.55 million course enrollments; those numbers are expected to grow rapidly after today, when Coursera added twelve schools, including Caltech, to its roster of online content providers.

"Professors can reach more students in one course than they could have hoped to in a lifetime," says Ng. "Universities can teach millions worldwide, and make time on campus for in-class learning."

Coursera’s platform is designed to use video presentations, active discussion groups, and interactive exercises to drive learning and ensure long-term retention of the material. Three Caltech faculty members—Antonio Rangel, Henry Lester, and George Djorgovski—will be the first to offer course material from Caltech on the Coursera platform this fall, and several other courses are expected to be available later in the year. Caltech does not plan to offer credit for course completion.

"We are enthusiastic about participating with Coursera as one approach in a broader effort to encourage and assist Caltech faculty and students in experimenting with the use of online technologies," says Caltech’s provost, Edward Stolper. "The goal is to improve both how we educate future generations of scientists and engineers here at Caltech and to show how our intense approach to education in science and engineering can make a difference beyond our own student body." 

Written by Kristen Brown