UT In Talks To Offer Some Classes Online, For Free

Ann McClure's picture
Monday, August 27, 2012

The University of Texas is negotiating with two companies that offer free online courses and could announce an affiliation in the next few weeks.

The companies are Coursera, a for-profit company, and edX, a nonprofit. Coursera offers courses from 16 universities, including Rice University, Stanford University and the University of Washington. EdX was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now also includes the University of California at Berkeley.

UT could wind up affiliating with one or both, said Tara Doolittle, a spokeswoman for the university. UT is farther along in its negotiations with Coursera, said Harrison Keller, vice provost for higher education policy and executive director of the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Although UT eventually could realize revenue from putting courses online, the primary motivation is to experiment with online education, Keller said. In Coursera’s model, students who want to earn a certificate would have to pay for the privilege, while those who forgo a certificate can learn for free.

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