Three Emory University professors are preparing to teach online courses this semester that have already drawn interest from tens of thousands of students across the globe.
The students won't earn college credits, but they also won't have to pay anything. They can watch lectures online, take quizzes, and communicate with other students and instructors on the web.
The courses, known as Massive Open Online Courses - or MOOCs - are free.
Emory's website says the university's first three MOOC offerings will be:
- "Introduction to Digital Sound Design," taught by Steve Everett, professor of music and director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence.
- "Immigration and U.S. Citizenship," taught by Polly Price, professor of law and associated faculty for the Department of History.
- "AIDS," taught by Kimberley (Kimbi) Hagen, assistant director of Emory's Center for AIDS Research, assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health, and adjunct faculty in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine.
An Emory news release says that more than 10,000 students have signed up for the AIDS course so far and nearly 30,000 students have signed up for the digital sound design course.
Hagen's AIDS course doesn't start until next week, but she has begun getting emails from students across the globe.
"When I look at the camera, I imagine the faces of the people who've emailed me, and I talk to them. I've bonded with them — they are real to me," Hagen said in the report on the Emory website.
The courses are being offered through Coursera, an online course provider that hosts more than 200 courses from 33 U.S. and international universities and reaches over 1.3 million students. Coursera says its goal is "to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few."
What do you think of this idea? Have you ever taken an online course? Would you consider signing up for a MOOC?