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You've got to MOOC

Early to the online-education party with the free video lectures known as Open Yale Courses, Yale has sat out the more recent phenomenon called MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. Until now.

Starting in January, four of the university's most popular lecture courses will be offered on the web via Coursera, Yale announced last week. Like Open Yale Courses, the MOOCs will be free and not for credit.

Yale also appointed music professor Craig Wright to the new, part-time position of academic director of online education, where he's charged with "creating a 'community of practice' for faculty interested in experimenting with online teaching methods," Provost Ben Polak says in a press release. Wright will also chair a new standing committee, comprising faculty from the professional schools as well as Arts and Sciences, that will advise Polak on online education.

Open Yale Courses were pioneering when they began in 2006. Over the years, Yale has added dozens of courses, all videorecorded in the classroom, with accompanying reading lists and transcripts. Some include other course materials, such as problem sets and exams. Available to anyone with a broadband connection, they are popular worldwide.

In recent years, other models have emerged. Coursera, founded by computer scientists at Stanford University, offers more than 300 courses from 60-plus universities. In contrast to the fly-on-the-classroom-wall approach, it boasts of students' ability to "learn with 3 million Courserians: watch short video lectures, take interactive quizzes, complete peer graded assessments, and interact live with your new classmates and teachers."

Yale also offers limited for-credit online courses; presumably those will expand as well.

Filed under MOOCs, online education, Coursera
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