Beginning this summer, the University of Michigan will offer a number of online classes that anyone from anywhere in the world can take…for free.
A professor from the U of M business school will teach a class on finance. Want to know about electronic voting in time for the November presidential election? You can take a course called securing digital democracy.
U of M English professor Eric Rabkin will teach a class on fantasy and science fiction, which is scheduled to go live this summer:
"That idea of making this available to more and more people frankly it warms my heart," says Rabkin. "There’s something in me that says if we want a democracy we have got to find ways to give people access to all the education that they want and can use."
There’ll be online videos, quizzes, a way to chat with others taking the class. The one thing you can’t do is interact with the professor.
Martha Pollock is a vice provost at U of M. She says the online classes are different from classes students take on campus. "This isn’t meant to replicate what we do in the classroom," explains Pollock. "This is just another way of reaching out and sharing what we know."
U of M is one of four universities to offer the free, online classes through a new platform called Coursera. The other schools are Stanford, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.
One U of M online class already being offered through Coursera is a class called Model Thinking. According to the university, more than 50,000 people signed up for the class, which began in February.