West Virginia University moved today (May 30) to provide a richer Mountaineer education to residential and virtual students, as well as broadly showcase its faculty, joining nine other major public or land-grant institutions in partnering with Coursera to provide massive open online courses, popularly known as MOOCs.

In addition to WVU, other new universities partnering with Coursera, one of the leading MOOC providers, are: the State University of New York, the Tennessee Board of Regents, University of Colorado, University of Houston System, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska, University of New Mexico, University System of Georgia and the University of Tennessee.

They join other Coursera partners like California Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve University, Brown University, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Yale University. (A complete list is available at http://www.coursera.org.)

“Partnering with Coursera underscores the mission of a 21st century land-grant university to provide access to students,” said WVU President Jim Clements. “We’re in very good company with some of the top universities and faculty members in the world who’ve engaged in this emerging educational delivery platform. Our faculty will take the lead as we move forward with new possibilities available through Coursera.”

Provost Michele Wheatly agreed. “MOOCs are part of a revolution in group learning, a massive experiment in online instruction with potentially tens of thousands of students in an online class,” she said. “WVU already has a progressive online course delivery structure in place, so I view this move as a strategic investment in WVU’s future. I have also spoken to various faculty groups and found them poised to support this innovation in learning as an additional educational tool.”

The University announced last week a reorganization of its extended and online learning areas under the umbrella of Academic Innovation to better champion innovation in the classroom and provide a place for faculty to experiment with emerging tools. The initiative will be led by Associate Vice President for Academic Innovation Sue Day-Perroots, who said, “The arrangement with Coursera will enhance access to high-value, high-tech courses. We’re glad to be among the early adopters of this new era in education.”

The agreement with Coursera will not only make a WVU education more broadly available, Day-Perroots said, but will enable the University to pull from other, prestigious Coursera partners to enrich on-campus offerings.

In addition, WVU faculty have been requesting assistance for new teaching and learning support structures, and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee last week received recommendations from both the Student Evaluation of Instruction and Student Instruction committees on the subject.

Initially WVU’s MOOCs, which likely will debut next spring, will be free, non-credit courses in high profile disciplines. The University could possibly utilize content for credit courses in the future.

“MOOCs make available to students the experience and accumulated knowledge of an acknowledged expert, like an interactive, multimedia textbook,” Faculty Senate chair Michael Mays said. “They are perfect vehicles to explore ideas for their own sake without the formality of transcripts and academic credit.

“It is one goal of a university education for students to value knowledge for its own sake,” Mays said. “What better way to build a base for a lifetime of learning than for them to get in the habit of browsing in a garden of ideas, guided only by their evolving interests.”

Lesley Cottrell, former Faculty Senate chair and current faculty representative on the Board of Governors, added, “The partnership between WVU and Coursera gives WVU faculty an opportunity to learn more about MOOC development, implementation and impact with a skilled company who leads this effort. We have the chance to be early adopters of this new era in online education and to reach a new population of students with our high quality offerings.”

In announcing the partnerships, Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller said, “We have an amazing opportunity to improve higher education in the U.S. through technology – both to serve students and give professors better tools for teaching. Co-founder Andrew Ng added, “The institutions partnering with Coursera today are opening up new possibilities to enhance education on campus, and make the best use of the powerful resources that already exist.

Since its founding, Coursera has partnered with top-tier universities and organizations to provide courses across a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, literature, history, computer science and the arts, among others. Coursera’s comprehensive education platform combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content and a global community of peers, offering students a unique online learning experience.

Coursera’s full announcement is also available at WVUToday.



CONTACT: Becky Lofstead; University Relations/News
304.293.6997; Becky.Lofstead@mail.wvu.edu


John A. Bolt; University Relations/News
304.293.5520; John.Bolt@mail.wvu.edu

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