COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State University, in the past reluctant to offer online courses, is now part of the massive open online course movement – known as MOOC.
OSU announced last month it would join Coursera, which offers free non-credit online classes. Coursera added 17 new university partners for a total of 33.
OSU currently offers a handful of graduate programs online and a few courses for undergraduates, said Wayne Carlson, vice provost for undergraduate studies.
"Online is an approach to teaching and learning that we can't ignore," he said. "We have to pay attention to it and are looking at what it means to us as an institution and how to embrace it and maintain the quality of the education process that we believe in."
He said OSU officials watched the development of MOOCs and saw its potential to change the way courses are delivered.
"We realized in order to be at the table to discuss how this approach to higher education takes place we really needed to participate rather than wait on the sidelines and watch others do it," he said.
He said Gee asked him to investigate Coursera after he met one of the founders.
OSU will offer two courses next year on Coursera. Those who complete them will receive a certificate signed by the online instructor
One is a 10-week long introduction to pharmacy, an existing course that will be adapted to an online format. The other is a six-week course on the science behind prescription drug abuse, which has been taught as an outreach program in high schools.
"Some faculty believe that everyone in the world deserves to participate in higher education and it shouldn't be limited to those who can afford it or have the ability to go to campus," Carlson said of the benefits of Coursera. "Others say it is an opportunity to get our message out there."
He said some officials believe joining the reputable universities in Coursera gives OSU "street cred."
"There is some truth to all of those things," he said.
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