Major universities seeing surge of interest in free online classes

14 Feb

Professor Larry Foulke records “A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology,” a free online class being offered by the University of Pittsburgh.
[ Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette ]

By Bill Schackner

In a makeshift production studio at the University of Pittsburgh, adjunct professor Larry Foulke is speaking passionately into a camera, preparing his online course, “A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology,” for the masses.

So animated is his delivery in front of a video crew recording his lecture, it’s as if he is speaking face-to-face to his class. But chances are nil that he will ever meet most of his students, and even if he did, there would not be enough time to greet them all.

That’s because nearly 12,000 people in the United States and abroad already have signed up via the Internet for a course that does not start until June, both because of the topic and the professor, a well-known nuclear industry retiree who is interim director of Pitt’s nuclear engineering program and past president of the American Nuclear Society.

“I suspect I will be reaching people all over the world,” said Mr. Foulke, 75, who worked for four decades as a nuclear engineer at Westinghouse Energy Systems and Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory before coming to Pitt in 2006. “It will be kind of exciting.”

Welcome to the world of MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses — a phenomenon that is spreading rapidly, prompting even some of the nation’s leading universities to gamble that giving away free instruction by some of their top faculty will pay dividends down the road.

[ Full article available at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: ]

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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in MOOCs in the News


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