Penn students can now learn about everything from property law to limb anatomy to global business with nothing but a thirst for knowledge and an Internet connection.
Penn recently announced a partnership with edX, a massive open online course provider. The partnership places Penn alongside universities across the world, including IIT Bombay, McGill and the University of Hong Kong. Founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in May 2012, edX now boasts over 500 courses led by around 1200 faculty.
Penn is familiar with MOOCs, since it was one of the four founding university partners of the Coursera platform in 2012. With the arrival of this partnership with edX, the University will now offer online courses via both platforms.
A few courses that the University will launch on edX in the coming months, under the name “PennX”, include “Intellectual Property Law and Policy” by R. Polk Wagner, professor of law, and “Going Out on a Limb: The Anatomy of the Upper Limb” with James White, adjunct assistant professor in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn.
Another course that PennX will launch is “Analyzing Global Trends for Business and Society” taught by Mauro Guillén, director of the Lauder Institute at the Wharton School.
Guillén, who has previous experience with Coursera, is attracted to the idea of MOOCs because he can “reach a broader audience of people who are all over the world [including those] who maybe don’t have the opportunity to enroll full time in a college or university.” He also believes that the future of online education is bright.
“I think online education is going to be huge,” he said, “It is very low cost, [it] can reach a very large audience and there is a very strong demand out there in the world for education and for training.”
Guillén added that students aren’t the only ones who benefit from online courses — the professors benefit as well.
“The last thing I want to emphasize is that, actually, my classroom teaching on campus has improved as a result of doing the videos for the online class,” he said.
Guillén’s experience with the Coursera platform is one Penn envisioned when it entered the world of MOOCS three years ago. Deirdre Woods, Executive Director of Online Learning Initiatives at Penn, said that a goal of Penn’s involvement with MOOCs is “to really drive teaching innovation on campus and to have faculty members [have] the experience and opportunity to work on different platforms.”
She added that other priorities for Penn’s involvement in MOOCs include expanding Penn’s global range and providing access to educational resources to people who are not traditional Penn students.
“I would like to think of it more broadly, in terms of perhaps ‘technology-enhanced education’ as well,” Woods said. “It goes beyond just taking all of your courses and putting them online. It’s figuring out how technology can really create an outstanding course experience.”
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