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Penn to Offer Online Classes via Coursera

April 24, 2012, Volume 58, No. 31

The University of Pennsylvania, along with Princeton University and the University of Michigan, are joining Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley in partnering with Coursera, an online education platform, to make web-based courses available free and to improve teaching on campuses. 

The Coursera education platform is the first to host content from multiple world-renowned universities at one online destination. These courses include video lectures with interactive quizzes, mastery-building interactive assignments and collaborative online forums.

Penn faculty will provide courses in medicine, business, music, literature, mathematics and computer science, among others.

“Penn is delighted to participate in this innovative collaboration that will make high-quality learning opportunities available to millions of people around the world,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “Expanding access to higher education both nationally and globally remains one of our most critical responsibilities. This initiative provides an invaluable opportunity for anyone who has the motivation and preparation to partake of a world-class education.”

With the capacity to reach millions of people at once, web-based courses are pioneering a new model for higher learning, one that potentially gives everyone in the world access to a top-level educational experience. With an innovative design inspired by educational research on effective learning, the Coursera platform creates an interactive learning experience for the participating universities’ course offerings. Recorded video lectures contain frequent quizzes that reinforce concept retention, as well as deeper assignments that test students’ understanding and build mastery of the material. The Coursera platform also offers community forums that encourage students to participate actively with classmates from around the world.

Coursera was founded in the fall of 2011 by Dr. Daphne Koller and Dr. Andrew Ng, Stanford computer science professors. It builds on the technology they helped develop which was used to host Stanford’s free online classes. These classes were an instant success, receiving more than 350,000 enrollments across 172 different countries. Seven courses from Stanford, and UC-Berkeley, have been running for several weeks, and additional courses will launch later this week and through late summer.

During the next few months, new online courses across a range of disciplines will continue to be added to the online platform, from current university partners as well as other top-tier educational institutions.

Twelve Penn faculty members are currently slated to offer courses that will be available beginning in June and some later in the summer. The topics range from health policy to calculus, poetry to pharmacology, music to mythology.

  • Benjamin Abella, Cardiac Arrest, Hypothermia and Resuscitation Science
  • Ezekiel Emanuel, Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act
  • Robert Ghrist, Calculus: Single Variable
  • Al Filreis, Modern and Contemporary American Poetry
  • Roy Hamilton, Basic Behavioral Neurology
  • John Hogenesch, Introduction to Genome Science
  • Michael Kearns, Networked Life
  • Emma Meagher, Fundamentals of Pharmacology
  • Carol Muller,  Listening to World Music
  • Paul Offit, Vaccines
  • Peter Struck, Greek and Roman Mythology
  • Kevin Werbach, Gamification

Additional information and registration are available at Coursera.org

Almanac - April 24, 2012, Volume 58, No. 31