European Universities Catch The Online Wave
Career College Central summary:
After a cautious start, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are catching on in Europe, too, as universities and educators look for ways to save on teaching costs and reach out to a wider student audience, and as providers sense commercial opportunities.
Several distinct platforms have started operating in Europe this year, while a consortium of open universities has come together to provide a database of their MOOCs. Innovation is not only coming from entrepreneurs and educators: As part of a major education directive, the European Commission is set to launch an open education resource Web site later this week.
Often produced by well-known colleges or universities, MOOCs are frequently hosted on third party commercial platforms. Depending on the platform, students may be able to watch top-quality lectures and tutorials online, contribute to discussion boards and take computer-graded tests. There are no admission requirements, no scheduling clashes and no, or low, tuition costs.
There is a downside: original work usually cannot be graded, and typically no college credit is given for having completed a course. But MOOC platforms and educators on both sides of the Atlantic are working on systems that enable MOOC students to be awarded actual college credits for completed courses.
Courses taught by prestigious universities and well-known professors tend to be among the most popular. Last year, a Stanford course on artificial intelligence, taught by Sebastian Thrun, professor of computer science, and Peter Norvig, director of research at Google, drew some 160,000 students.
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THE NEW YORK TIMES