Universities Talk Of Taking Back Control Of Online Offerings

Colleges looking to expand their online course offerings have often enlisted help from education-technology companies. A college might buy a learning-management system from Blackboard, e-tutoring software from Pearson, and so on.

Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in massive open online courses, recently became the latest technology firm to offer services aimed at credit-bearing online programs at large universities.

Now the provosts in a consortium of major research universities are considering whether their group should build its own online infrastructure that would enable the universities to share courses, digital resources, and data without ceding control to outsiders.

In a position paper, a task force of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation—a consortium of 13 research universities, mostly in the Big Ten Conference—this month proposed that its members figure out if they can work together on a common "framework" for their online offerings.

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