Rutgers Unveils Free, Online Noncredit Courses

Three classes will be initially offered.

Editor's note: The following information is a press release from Rutgers University.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, continues to expand access through online courses.

Rutgers has announced that the university is joining Coursera, a leading massive open online course (MOOC) platform, to provide free, non-credit courses to students and lifelong learners around the world.

A MOOC is an online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. It’s not unusual for tens of thousands of people to sign on simultaneously to one course. Although similar to college courses, MOOCs typically do not offer academic credit.

Coursera has more than two million users around the world and offers hundreds of courses from prestigious colleges and universities in the United States and abroad, including Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, University of Michigan, Brown, University of London International Programmes, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Melbourne.

“These are exciting and rapidly changing times for higher education,” said Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi. “Using massive open online courses, Rutgers will join our peer institutions in the U.S. and around the world in providing boundless access to top flight instruction in the numerous disciplines where Rutgers excels. Our hope is that some of these thousands of students will go on to apply to our online or on-campus degree programs.”

 “We’re working hard to continue to build our network of university partners to offer a high quality learning experience to anyone who wants it,” said Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller. “One of our top priorities is to reach the people who need education the most, including those who would not otherwise have access to the type of courses offered by the institutions we have the honor of working with.”

Coursera announced that 29 universities, including Rutgers, have joined the 33 other institutions that offer free online courses on its platform.

Initially, Rutgers will offer three courses on the Coursera platform: “Analyzing the Universe,” a science course created in partnership with NASA and Harvard led by Rutgers professor Terry Matilsky; “Soul Beliefs,” an interdisciplinary review of beliefs about the soul, with professors Len Hamilton and Dan Ogilvie; and, in partnership with a wide range of Rutgers faculty, James Martin will lead a course based on his latest book, “The Future of Humankind.” Martin founded the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, which does scholarly research on the most pressing problems, dangers and opportunities facing our planet. He is a Pulitzer Prize nominee for his book “The Wired Society.”

In addition to expanding access, participation in Coursera provides Rutgers online educators with an extraordinary opportunity to learn how MOOCs are best utilized and what practices can assist in facilitating online learning. Rutgers also anticipates using the platform to increase online participation in existing campus courses.

Rutgers recently announced the creation of Rutgers Online. The initiative began in January and will offer more than 20 fully online master’s degrees by the end of the 2013-14 academic year. Rutgers has offered online courses since 1999, initially only at the graduate level. Currently, there are more than 15,000 enrollments each year in Rutgers online courses.

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