Thursday, October 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

More elite universities offer free online courses

By
From page A1 | March 07, 2013 |

By Terence Chea

SAN FRANCISCO — More of the world’s elite universities are joining the rush to offer “massive open online courses” that are broadening access to higher education. But some experts question how much so-called MOOCs can help students trying to earn college degrees.

Coursera and edX, two of the leading MOOC providers, last month announced major expansions that will roughly double the number of universities offering free online courses through their websites.

Cambridge, Mass.-based edX, which was founded in May by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it will add six new institutions, including five outside the United States, which will offer at least 25 additional courses.

Mountain View-based Coursera said it will add 29 institutions, including 16 outside the United States. Over the next several months, the schools will offer 90 new courses, including some taught in French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.

“Having courses taught in other languages will enable more students to take our classes,” said Andrew Ng, a Stanford University professor who co-founded Coursera last April.

MOOCs have attracted millions of students and captured the public imagination over the past year, allowing people from all walks of life to learn from leading scholars at top-tier universities — free of charge.

But the question remains: Can these large-scale, highly automated classes help increase college completion rates or lower the cost of earning a degree?

So far only a small number of institutions are offering degree credit for MOOCs, but that could change if more colleges determine the digital classes meet their academic standards.

Earlier this month, the American Council on Education said it will recommend credit for five Coursera courses. The association is evaluating more MOOCs for possible credit recommendations, which many schools use to decide whether to grant credit for nontraditional courses.

But some experts say MOOCs can’t replace traditional classroom learning, especially for struggling students who need more face-to-face interaction and mentoring to succeed.

A new study by Columbia University found that community-college students who took small-scale, online-only courses performed worse and were more likely to drop out than peers who took traditional classes. There was a steeper decline in performance among students who are young, male, black or economically disadvantaged, according to the report.

“Online education as it’s been developed so far, including MOOCs, I don’t think has been effective for struggling students,” said Tom Bailey, who directs Columbia’s Community College Research Center. “We’re not finding you can’t learn online. But we’re finding a less effective outcome.”

EdX President Anant Agarwal said colleges should use MOOCs to improve — rather than replace — campus-based education by combining online lessons with classroom instruction.

San Jose State University students who recently took a “blended” version of an edX engineering class performed significantly better than students who took the classroom-based course, he added.

“I really believe the blended model is really a key approach to improving campus education,” Agarwal said. The MOOC movement has also encountered some setbacks during its rapid expansion.

Earlier this month, Coursera suspended an online course offered by Georgia Institute of Technology because of technical problems.

The company hopes to relaunch the course, “Fundamentals of Online Education,” in the near future, Ng said.

Two weeks ago, a UC Irvine professor, Richard McKenzie, said he would stop teaching a Coursera economics course halfway through the term because of disagreements over how to run the class.

McKenzie declined to comment, but Gary Matkin, UC Irvine’s dean of distance learning, said the course would continue as scheduled because the instructional materials already have been created.

“Prof. McKenzie is not accustomed (as few are) in teaching university-level material to an open, large, and quite diverse audience including those who were not seriously committed to achieving the learning objectives of the course,” Matkin said in a statement.

Ng said Coursera played no role in McKenzie’s decision to stop teaching, but he noted that teaching a MOOC is quite different from teaching a traditional course and “it really isn’t for everyone.”

“We’re all experimenting still with what makes sense for MOOCs,” Ng said. “There will be missteps along the way.”

Coursera currently offers 220 courses from 33 institutions and has almost 2.8 million registered users who have signed up for nearly 10 million courses. Only a fraction of enrollees actually complete the courses, in part because it’s easy and free to sign up.

The 29 new Coursera partners include Chinese University of Hong Kong, Technical University of Denmark, National Autonomous University of Mexico as well as the universities of Copenhagen, Geneva and Toyko.

EdX, which currently offers 25 courses from six universities and has 700,000 registered users, will add six new members: Australian National University, Delft University of Technology, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, McGill University, Rice University and the University of Toronto.

Delft University in the Netherlands will be the first edX partner to provide courses as “open content,” which means that other universities are free to incorporate the materials in their offerings, said Agarwal.

“People can reuse it and remix it,” Agarwal said. “It enables courses to get better and better over time by allowing people to share content.”

Comments

comments

The Associated Press

.

News

 
Pioneer students meet K-9 Officer Dexter

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Versatile cycling contributor Casale Jr. heads to Hall of Fame

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Davis Innovation Center application gives city options

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Canada stunned by attacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Police warn of IRS phone scam

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Huge gold nugget going up for sale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Leading indicators up 0.8%

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
High-flying fun at University Airport

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Mercer Clinic benefits from pooch costume pics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Day of the Dead observance focuses on refugee children

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Parents’ Night Out on Friday at Pole Line Baptist

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Military Families seek help to send Hugs from Home

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Arboretum plant sale is Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
DPNS has play group, preschool openings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

UCD Vet Med hosts animal ‘adoptathon’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Check out classic cars once again

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Fly-casting champion will speak to fishing enthusiasts

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Flea Market planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Carlton invites community to its Haunted Harvest

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

 
Day of the Dead folk art class set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

A nose for mysteries: ‘Cadaver dog’ work more accepted by cops, courts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Cooperatives meet community needs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Co-op trivia

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Author visits Woodland for community book project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
.

Forum

Our view: Two more years for Garamendi

By Our View | From Page: B4

 
We support Archer, Adams

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

 
A force for good on board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Two are especially qualified

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
We have confidence in Madhavi

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

I support John Garamendi

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Knowledgeable, experienced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

A leader our schools deserve

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
We need Sunder on board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

.

Sports

Giants loss evens World Series at 1-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggie men beat Cal Poly, 1-0; alone at the top

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Blue Devils look for first home victory

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

 
Picture-perfect: DHS field hockey finishes 14-0

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis tennis team takes title

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil soccer loss sets up important final week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
Youth roundup: Hurricanes handle American River twice in one day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

JV/frosh roundup: DHS underclassmen shine in water polo events

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Features

What’s happening

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

 
Hand sanitizer versus soap and water

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Girl Scouts join effort to keep kids healthy

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Name Droppers: Foster parent heads to First 5

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

.

Arts

 
If it can go wrong it will go wrong

By Michael Lewis | From Page: A10

 
San Francisco Symphony visits with conductor/pianist Zacharias

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A10 | Gallery

The Rhythm Future Quartet plays at Village Homes Community Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
All are welcome at Fun Time Follies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘Under the Covers’ concert benefits KDRT

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Jam with folk musicians on Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
DHS Madrigals plan traditional English winter celebration

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

DMTC plans Halloween karaoke fundraiser

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Dorothy Foytik

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Mariana Brumbaugh Henwood

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, October 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B10