My wife just sent me a link first to this
, who wants universities to put their most interesting courses online for free, not just so that people accessing the courses can learn, but also to help study how people learn from online material.
Like others of its kind (
, each with a different formats/types/topics of subjects, assessments and requirements), the idea behind
, the company that Koller co-founded, is to have lecturers and professors from top universities (predominantly American by the looks of things; Harvard, Stanford etc.) run a series of online lectures that people can access for free.
I must admit that I don't know too much about online courses, other than one of my
friends getting excited about
, but I really like the idea of full courses online with quizzes, exams and peer feedback, and especially the idea of using the massive amounts of data generated by the students (users?) to tailor the course content and delivery (skip to the 14:00 minute mark of the video above) and study learning practices.
to choose from, but I've I've signed up for
, which unfortunately doesn't start until March next year.
It looks pretty full-on (16-20 hours of work a week) and requires university-level knowledge of neuroanatomy (I'm hoping my PhD will come in handy) but it looks really interesting and I'm really looking forward to it. I've also signed up for a five-week course on
, which starts in November, looks a little less intensive and recommends only some 'previous exposure to science' (although I'm not quite sure what exactly that means).
I don't know how Coursera compares to other free online course providers 'on the market', how this model changes the role of traditional universities, or how viable they are, but the idea harnessing the internet to provide free, quality education to the masses is fundamentally exciting.