Explosion In Free Online Classes May Change Course Of Higher Education

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up in a $60 million venture to provide classes online for free. The move is the latest by top universities to expand their intellectual reach through the Internet — a trend that is changing higher education. Last month, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced that they were working with Coursera, a Silicon Valley startup, to put more than a dozen classes online this year in subjects ranging from computer science to public health to poetry. Earlier this year, Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun, one of the inventors of Google's self-driving car, announced he was leaving the school to start a company called Udacity, which would hire world-class professors from leading universities to create free online classes. Coursera and Udacity, which are set up as for-profits, said they are committed to keeping their classes free and have each raised millions from venture capitalists.

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