By Elizabeth Pelz
When the University of Illinois signed up with Coursera to begin offering 10 online courses to students at no cost, they might not have been able to predict that they would receive such a positive response.
According to the Chicago Tribune, around 14,000 pupils enrolled to take advantage of these courses and this is only a few days after they began advertising this new development.
While this number indicates the level of interest that has been rising in the field of online education, as these courses begin to gain ground and more students discover the opportunities that are being made available to them, this number could seem miniscule compared to the number of students that will join up for the classes of their choosing in the near future.
Coursera and the innovation of education
The University of Illinois is only one of many institutions that have signed up with Coursera to begin offering Massive Online Open Classrooms, or MOOCs, to the public, and it is set to revolutionize the manner in which people approach education.
Coursera is the brainchild of two Stanford professors, who conceptualized and brought this program to life only last year, but so far they are offering more than 100 classes ranging from the sciences to the arts. Thanks to this new innovation, students who cannot attend university due to geographical or financial constraints can now make use of this opportunity to further their educational prospects.
These opportunities have become increasingly necessary in this day and age, especially since the workplace is now more competitive than ever and individuals without a proper education might face many more challenges in order to achieve their career goals.
The difference between Coursera and traditional online classes
The biggest different between this new concept and the more traditional online courses, according to Joshua Kim on Inside Higher Ed, is the fact that these courses require interactions between lecturers and peers, and this brings it closer to the more standard land-based classrooms.
He compares the difference between these types of classes and brick-and-mortar lessons to Facebook friends and friends that are interacted with in real life – the differences are becoming rather minimal at this point in time.
Technology and the future
If online courses are anything to go by, students seem to be very interested in furthering their education with regards to technology. When the MOOC called edX partnered with universities such as Harvard and MIT, around 120,000 students signed up for classes that revolved around “Circuits and Electronics”.
The co-founder of Coursera, Daphne Koller, stated recently that the University Of Illinois’ most popular online class at the moment is based around teaching students the processes involved in developing smartphone applications.
It seems as if technology-based classes are in high gear, with students jumping at the chance to further their education in this field. With career opportunities becoming readily available to those that are technologically savvy, it is no surprise that students are opting for these types of courses at the moment.