At a time when the world is quickly transitioning to the World Wide Web with online shopping, dating and social networking, it was only a matter of time before college students saw an online higher education.
Joining the web migration, UH announced that professors will begin contributing to a massive open online course company known as Coursera earlier this summer. Coursera, one of the four companies leading the massive open online courses revolution, currently offers 391 not-for-credit courses for free online to anyone with access to a computer, according to its website.
UH is joining eighty-three colleges that are contributing content as partners.
The plan is for professors to use each other’s course material in attempts of creating a “blended learning” experience nationwide.
“We think the coming decade will see a transformation in the way education is delivered, where teachers and online content come together to better serve students on campus and beyond,” said Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller in a press release.
UH plans to eventually offer these courses for credit, but for a fee. The University of Texas announced their contribution of MOOCs through another company, edX, and — beginning this fall — they will offer four of these courses for credit. Just one weekend after the courses opened, UT had more than 15,000 students registered for these four classes, according to The Daily Texan.
Providing an easily accessible higher education experience to more people is an opportunity for UH to grow. More students can access classes, and UH creates a bigger revenue pool. Anyone with a business mind can see the obvious perks to introducing MOOCs to the UH System.
However, UH cannot have it all.
The intrinsic benefits are clouded by a few daunting possibilities. For instance, some students may believe these MOOCs may shine a negative light on UH. After UT announced their participation, Board of Regents Chair Gene Powell said to Texas Monthly that he was accused of attempting to make UT a degree mill. Some students feel that MOOCs are diminishing the value of their degree rather than spreading the wealth.
All perceptions aside, we at The Daily Cougar feel that the positives greatly outweigh the negatives, and — seeing as the MOOC revolution is inevitable — we are glad to be a part of one of the Texas universities at its forefront.
This University was founded with working men and women in mind. Having more easily accessible classes to provide for students who would not otherwise be able to attend or afford classes directly aligns with the foundation of UH.