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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