UF offers free online courses

By on March 11th, 2013

The University of Florida became the first state university to launch massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which are starting here this year.

The classes cannot be taken for  credit. There is no attendance limit to the classes, which are free and available to anyone with an Internet connection, according to Educuse.

UF spokesman Chris Moran said these courses have the possibility for revolutionary learning.

“This is possibly a moment where the Internet has its greatest effect on higher education basically since the Internet started affecting higher education,” he said.

Moran said a professor told him the program will expand teaching’s reach.

“He believes he may reach more students just this semester through a MOOC than he has in decades of classroom teaching,” Moran said.

Students who access a UF-sponsored education for free may see its value and become paying students, Moran said.

UF was recognized for the quality of its education and invited to join the program through Coursera. UF was recognized for its agriculture expertise, which is why four of the five classes this semester deal with either food or agriculture, Moran said.

UF agricultural and biological engineering professor Wendell Porter will start teaching his Global Sustainable Energy MOOC later this month. He said the university was quick to jump on the invitation-only opportunity to host these courses.

At last count, about 16,000 students were registered for Porter’s course.

“You really are looking at education as a totally different model when you look at it this way.” he said. “I think you can go back to John Adams, our second president, and he said one of the best things we can do is educate everybody and not just the people with money.”

Jenna Lyons wrote this story online.

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