Redefining online education: Tech signs agreement with Coursera to offer online courses

In an effort to offer higher education through an easily accessible medium, Tech announced its partnership with Coursera on Tuesday, July 17, to offer free online courses. Tech joins 15 other institutions by offering five online courses among the 111 currently available on the website. According to Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, the move was made in order to “enrich and expand educational opportunities” while “enabling even more students throughout the word to have access to Georgia Tech’s expertise.”
Coursera, originally founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, had partnerships with University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and University of Edinburgh prior to the addition of Tech and 12 other institutions on Monday. The other institutions to partner with Coursera this year include Duke University, the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, University of California San Francisco, University of Washington and University of Toronto, among others.
The courses offered on the website cover a wide range of topics including Mathematics, Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, Computing, Chemistry and Psychology, among others.
“It seems clear that higher education is currently experiencing the first ripples of a wave that could drastically alter the method, scope and scale of educational access and delivery,” said Dr. Rafael L. Bras, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. “By joining Coursera we seek to expand our presence in that space, provide increased global access to our excellent educational products, experiment with new methods and ideas in the delivery of education and most importantly, enhance the learning options and convenience for our own students.”
Tech will start its partnership by offering five courses titled Computational Investing Part I, Computational Photography, Control of Mobile Robots, Energy 101 taught, and Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application.
The length of the courses that Tech offers can range anywhere from five to 10 weeks long while taking approximately five to seven hours of work per week.
Courses on the website generally consist of multiple short video lectures, with periodic assignments that are submitted online. With each course, the video lectures can be watched multiple times and at the time of the student’s convenience so that each student can learn at their own pace. After the initial courses are offered, the Institute plans to offer an even wider range of courses covering multiple platforms.
“The greatest challenge for utilizing this delivery method is transforming my 35 years of teaching experience into short ten-minute lectures. I am a big believer in this approach with today’s technology to improve the learning experience,” said Dr. Sam Shelton, professor of Energy 101 and founding director of the Tech Strategic Energy Institute.
Coursera is taking a unique approach to online education compared to conventional methods used in the past. Instead of using online multiple choice tests in order to assess the knowledge of the students taking the course, a peer review system will be used in order to “grade” assignments. Whenever an assignment is submitted, the student is also responsible for grading another enrolled student’s assignment so the responsibility does not entirely lie on the instructor.
The courses taken through Coursera only serve as supplemental learning, meaning that they are not worth any form of college credit. However upon the completion of a course, a certificate signed by the instructor is given to the student as evidence that the course was passed.
Coursera initially launched on April 18, offering 43 courses prior to the announcement of its new partnerships. Since going online, over 680,000 students from 190 countries have enrolled more than 1.5 million times.