The University of Illinois’ initial free online courses attracted about 14,000 enrollments on the first day of registration, according to the company partnering with the university on the project.
“Overnight, we have (thousands of) students interested in the University of Illinois courses, the most esoteric of which I don’t understand the title,” Phyllis Wise, chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus, told university trustees at their meeting today.
Coursera, an online education company, announced a dozen new university partners Tuesday, including U. of I. The university had contacted Coursera only last week to express an interest in joining, and the U. of I. agreed to offer 10 classes.
Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller, a Stanford University professor, said there were 14,000 registrations for the U. of I. courses. The most popular is a course on developing applications for smartphones, followed by a computer science class on parallel programming. Other subjects include organic chemistry and planet Earth.
The California-based Coursera saw about 50,000 new student enrollments after Tuesday’s announcement. The company is part of a fast-growing trend in higher education called Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, which are free courses offered to an unlimited number of students.
While the courses are free, the university may be able to make money off the venture, either through a fee for course-completion certificates or the sale of students' names to potential employers.
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