UW to offer fee-based courses through Coursera
The University of Washington will offer credit for some online courses offered through Coursera, an online course platform, but students will have to pay a fee to receive credit.
Seattle Times higher education reporter
A day after joining a prestigious national venture to offer free online courses, the University of Washington announced it also would offer credit for some of the courses — for a fee.
That would make it the first university in the U.S. to provide credit using a Massive Open Online Course — MOOC — learning platform, UW officials said.
The UW on Tuesday joined Coursera, a startup created by two Stanford University computer-science professors. The startup's course catalog Tuesday went from 43 to 111 offerings, as 12 more universities joined the partnership, bringing the number of public and private universities participating to 16.
Coursera's expansion made national headlines and led to a rush of new online sign-ups. The UW has two free courses listed on the site, and by day's end Tuesday, more than 2,500 people had signed up for them, said UW spokeswoman Teri Thomas.
The free courses are: scientific computing, taught by J. Nathan Kutz, and information security and risk management in context, taught by Barbara Endicott-Popovsky.
Thomas said the UW was still fine-tuning the details of its Coursera involvement as late as Tuesday afternoon, and was not ready at that point to announce the fee-based courses.
On Wednesday morning, she said that while many specifics are still being worked out, the fee-based courses would lead to either credit or a certificate from the UW.
Pricing has not yet been set, but would be comparable to current UW credit courses and certificate programs, Thomas said. Prices on certificate courses vary, but generally run between $2,000 and $5,000 for a series of three courses.
The for-credit Coursera courses would be enhanced with direct, online communication with the instructor, and students would take monitored exams, Thomas said. Details are still being determined, but the UW could tap into a network of national, brick-and-mortar testing centers l around the country to administer the exams.
The UW eventually plans to offer on Coursera's platform an applied mathematics program in scientific computing, courses in computer science, a linked sequence in computational finance and a three-course certificate in information security and risk management. The classes would be available sometime during the 2012-13 academic year, Thomas said.
The UW already offers 38 certificate courses online, and the videos and other content from some of those courses will be repackaged and reformatted to fit the Coursera platform, Thomas said.
Coursera's courses are broken into short video segments, usually about five to 10 minutes long, with quizzes after each segment to test how well a student is learning the material.
They have a specific start date, so groups of students move through the course together, and ask questions or share information through online forums.
Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @katherinelong.