Two Stanford University professors have given $16 million to fund Coursera.org, a Silicon Valley free online education portal. The website will offer free online classes to students worldwide. The three dozen courses offered will be taught by professors from University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of California at Berkley, Princeton University, and University of Michigan.
Coursera differs from other online education portals because it will be adopting interactive components for its courses. Along with teaching the course online, the professors who participate in the project will communicate with students through forums and may even perform sessions through videoconferencing. Founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller said that assignments and tests will be a vital component of the courses. The crucial goal of the project is make education affordable to the masses.
While online courses can be beneficial to students, certain faults have to be considered. For example, during tests, there is no possible way to guarantee students are not cheating. This is why University of Phoenix relies on online presentations, research papers, tutorials, etc. to determine students’ grades. Some say collaborative learning is not as effective virtually as it is in conventional course. The founders are assured that in time, they will adapt the program to fit these issues too.
When the trial run was conducted, it posed problems. Classes were taught through recorded video. The video lectures were of low quality picture, which bothered some students. Also since they were recorded in the professors’ homes, there were a number of disturbances. Poised students however set aside the faults and were pleased with the content quality of the lectures.
The portal is planning to connect intelligent students with prospective employers, which will help earn money. Brand building will increase the number of student enrollment at the participating universities. The free online education portal is also excepting donations from alumni and present students.