British universities join online education revolution

Sep 18, 2013
A woman types on the keyboard of her laptop computer in Beijing on January 7, 2010. Dozens of British universities began offering free online courses on Wednesday through a collective portal, joining a global trend started in the United States that opens higher education to the masses.

Dozens of British universities began offering free online courses on Wednesday through a collective portal, joining a global trend started in the United States that opens higher education to the masses.

They are initially offering 20 courses including causes of war from King's College London, studio production from Queen's University Belfast and introductory from the University of Edinburgh.

Pre-registration opened on Tuesday and in one day 20,000 people from 158 different countries signed up—even though the portal site will not be completed for several months.

Until then it will run in beta phase, without all the finishing touches, so organisers can see how it works.

The scheme brings British universities in line with many of their rivals in the United States, where so-called massive open online courses (MOOCs) are hugely popular.

Karen O'Brien, Vice Principal at King's College London, said she was "delighted" that King's was taking part.

"It offers an opportunity to open up some of our most innovative and popular courses to a global audience and allows learners to study flexibly anytime, anywhere," she told AFP.

Other , including Oxford, Cambridge or Imperial College, are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Cambridge said it already produced recorded lectures that were available online, and closed online courses for the benefits of its own students.

"At present we have no plans to produce such courses for university-level material though we are watching developments elsewhere with interest," it said in a statement.

Simon Nelson, chief executive of the project, FutureLearn, said he hoped they would eventually come onboard.

"I'm very hopeful that when they and other see the quality of what we've developed in such a short space of time then it may encourage them to think of joining," he told AFP.

"If not, then I'm delighted with the quality of the institutions that we've got."

He said the decision to adopt a standard platform allowed the universities to focus on the quality of their courses, which run between six and ten weeks and involve videos, text and discussions over social media.

FutureLearn is a unit of the Open University, which has been providing distance learning for the last 40 years.

Explore further: Google engineers to pump up MOOC.org website from edX

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google engineers to pump up MOOC.org website from edX

Sep 12, 2013

(Phys.org) —Free online courses continue to be a work in progress as the next upheaval in education. Google will be advancing progress momentum, based on Tuesday's announcement from Google Research: Google ...

More top universities to offer free online courses

Feb 21, 2013

More of the world's elite universities are joining the rush to offer "massive open online courses," but it's still uncertain whether so-called MOOCs will help more students earn college degrees.

College credit for online courses gains momentum

Nov 16, 2012

The American Council on Education, a nonprofit organization that represents most of the nation's college and university presidents, is preparing to weigh in on massive open online courses - MOOCs, for short - a new way of ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

3 hours ago

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

4 hours ago

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

20 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

c0y0te
1 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2013