Friday, September 19, 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

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    School district may redevelop downtown site

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

     
    Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

     
    UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

    DUI suspected in crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Scots vote to stay in UK

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Storyteller will draw on music, dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Register to vote by Oct. 20

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Free workout class set at library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis maps available at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Reception benefits endangered gorillas

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Davis hosts its own climate change rally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Qigong classes available for heart health

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Sick of being the bad guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Project has safety risks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Learn more about Paso Fino

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Educate homeless with dogs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

    By Our View | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Return to previous plan

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Save the ‘pine cone place’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Affirm our community values

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Take Zona and Bama this week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

     
    A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Taylor Morrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Norcal Land

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Robin Garland

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Dana Hawkins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Marcelo Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Bob Bockwinkel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Juan Ramirez

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    James Hanna

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    First Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24