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UBC joins Coursera to offer free online courses

The University of British Columbia is joining forces with the U.S.-based company Coursera to provide high quality, non-credit courses free of charge to a worldwide audience – bringing the university’s expertise within reach of anyone with Internet access.

Starting spring 2013, UBC will pilot three non-credit courses taught by renowned UBC faculty and researchers through Coursera’s online learning platform.

Coursera was founded in 2011 by two Stanford University professors to transform teaching and learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Partnering with top-tier universities that include Stanford, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, Coursera currently enrolls more than 1.3 million students from 196 countries, and with today’s addition of courses, the platform hosts more than 200 courses across a broad range of disciplines.

“Our partnership with Coursera will enable us to reach people around the world, and to evaluate an exciting new teaching and learning technology,” says Simon Peacock, Dean of the Faculty of Science, where two of the three UBC Coursera courses will be housed. “Ultimately, I believe all UBC students will benefit from our exploration of this rapidly evolving online space.”

UBC’s Coursera offerings are “Useful Genetics” with Prof. Rosie Redfield, “Computer Science Problem Design” with Prof. Gregor Kiczales and “Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Conversations” with Sarah Burch and Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze, instructors for the UBC Continuing Studies Centre for Sustainability.

Coursera courses typically consist of videos or voice-over PowerPoint presentations, with student-led discussion forums, interactive activities, quizzes and assignments set at regular intervals.

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