CU on Coursera

The University of Colorado's Boulder campus will offer the following four courses for free online via Coursera beginning on a date still to be determined:

"Comic Books and Graphic Novels" taught by William Kuskin

"Physics 1 for Physical Majors" taught by Michael Dubson

"Linear and Integer Programming" taught by Sriram Sankaranarayanan

"Introduction to Power Electronics" taught by Robert Erickson.

COLORADO SPRINGS -- The University of Colorado soon will offer four free courses online to a global audience through a newly announced partnership with Coursera.

Coursera, which offers massive open online courses, or MOOCs, announced today that it has added 29 new universities to its platform, including the Boulder campus.

Four professors from the Boulder campus will cumulatively teach four online courses. The inaugural CU Coursera courses are “Physics 1 for Physical Science Majors,” “Comic Books and Graphic Novels,” “Linear and Integer Programming” and “Introduction to Power Electronics.”

It's not yet known when the courses will start.

Roughly 60 colleges and universities from the United States and internationally now partner with Coursera and the site has reached more than 2 million students across the globe.

During a discussion about technology at their boarding meeting this morning, the CU regents discussed how open online courses could change the course of higher education.

“In 20 years, I wonder what college degrees mean compared to certificates for specific skills,” said Michael Carrigan, D-Denver.

Carrigan said he hopes that CU's other campuses get involved with Coursera.

Kathleen Bollard, vice president and academic affairs officer, said the university has invested time in the partnership with Coursera – but no money.

“We've added this to our job descriptions,” she said.

The American Council on Education announced last month month that it will evaluate MOOCs for possible college credit and explore how this new learning mode can benefit students. The council will evaluate potential credit for four courses offered by Udacity.

Some in higher education – including Regent Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver – have questioned whether colleges should give away course material for free.

“I feel like I'm the owner of a railroad who just saw a jet plane,” Ludwig said.

Bollard responded by saying there's still tremendous value in a CU degree.

“It's just a matter of making sure we find smart ways to work with the changes in technology that are coming and monetize what we can,” she said.

Other universities have said Coursera is a way to garner attention from a worldwide audience and give them a glimpse of campus life.

CU Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Russell Moore, in an email sent Thursday, noted university officials also wanted to embrace the level of exposure the new technology could offer. 

"Since this is emerging as a movement nationally we want to be a part of the conversation as the landscape for massive open online courses develops," Moore said. "We see this as a significant opportunity to heighten the awareness, nationally and internationally, of CU-Boulder -- a prominent national research university. Our initial offering of courses will feature some of our most prominent and esteemed faculty scholars."

Other schools that have newly joined Coursera are the University of California-San Diego; the University of California-Santa Cruz; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.