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Elite American Universities Offering Free Online Courses

Harvard UniversityWASHINGTON, (RIA Novosti) An increasing number of prominent colleges and universities in the United States are offering free online classes through a series of new high-profile ventures aimed at overhauling higher education in the country.

“Higher education is ripe for innovation: it is too expensive and limited to a few,” said John Doerr a venture capitalist who invested in Coursea, one of several newly launched startups partnering with some of the top universities in the world to offer free online courses.

On Monday, Georgetown University in Washington announced it would become the latest school to offer free classes through a partnership with edX, a not-for-profit online education company founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT).

“This new partnership offers us an exciting opportunity to continue in this work to enhance learning and research both online and on our campuses,” said John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University.

Georgetown will begin offering edX courses next fall, making it the sixth university to partner with the education company since it launched this past summer.

EdX is just one of several recently launched platforms promoting massive open online courses (MOOC), aimed at using technology to make higher education more widely available and less costly.

Launched back in April by two professors from Stanford University, Coursea now offers hundreds of courses from 33 universities. The classes are structured with online videos, quizzes, and auto-graded exercises to help students grasp the material.

Course subject matter ranges from “The History of the World” to “Social Network Analysis” with each class lasting between six to ten weeks.

Millions of people from across the world have signed up for MOOCs, and while classes are not offered for credit, the model has benefits for both the students and the schools. While students are able to receive top tier education at no cost, universities are able to promote their brand worldwide.

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