Open University, in the UK, will begin offering free online courses with a new program called Futurelearn in early 2013.
Eleven UK universities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick have signed up to add courses and content to Futurelearn as well.
This program will create direct competition with the free Coursera and edX teaching and learning platforms from U.S.
According to the Washington Post, Georgetown University will be joining the edX online learning system and begin offering free online courses alongside Harvard & MIT and a few other schools.
edX is a not-for-profit partnership between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created to design and offer interactive, web-based courses. Launched in May, 2012, it later expanded to include the University of California, Berkeley, the entire University of Texas system and Wellesley College.
Along with offering online courses, the institutions will use edX to research how students learn online and how technologies implemented in the courses change the learning environment.
edX online contexts are large scale MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) that are created to serve course populations in the thousands instead of the more tradition 20 or 30 student-per-course groups of traditional classrooms and early online learning environments.
Another group of colleges have joined forces to offer online courses. Students enrolled at any of the 10 colleges campuses can take online courses from the shared system for credit at their primary or ‘home’ school.
Every member of the group has agreed to offer four-month-long online courses using software from 2U. 2U was founded in 2008 as 2tor by John Katzman and a group of developers.
Their approach is almost the opposite of a MOOC. These online courses, while offered to a wide geographic area, will be seminar-like online courses. The colleges are using 2U’s software to provide a platform for online courses capped at 20 students each.
Students already attending the institutions can earn credit from any college in the group, while students who are not enrolled at those colleges can apply to take the courses.
Universities in the consortium include:
- Brandeis University
- Duke University
- Emory University
- Northwestern University
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of Notre Dame
- University of Rochester
- Vanderbilt University
- Wake Forest University
- Washington University in St. Louis
The American Council on Education will review a number of online courses offered by major US universities as part of a pilot project, funded by the Gates Foundation to look at the quality and use of massive open online courses as part of the ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service.
According to a statement on the ACE website the project is looking at Coursera MOOCs that “can help raise degree completion, deepen college curricula and increase learning productivity.”
ACE is not an accrediting agency in any traditional sense. The group is a lobby group for higher education and offers professional development and information services for college and university leaders at over 100 institutions.