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Online courses for anyone, anywhere

U of T joins Coursera

U of T's online offerings through Coursera will include courses on computer programming, neural networks for machine learning and Aboriginal world views in education (photo by Caz Zyvatkauskas)

The University of Toronto is joining Coursera – a platform for offering massive open online courses through partnerships with leading international universities – to launch a new suite of online courses that will be accessible to anyone.

The initiative will enable hundreds of thousands of people world-wide to learn the latest in such areas as neural networks, mental health and Aboriginal education from U of T faculty who are leaders in their fields.

These pilot courses build on Open.UToronto, where members and friends of U of T find, use, create and share openly licensed content, resources and courses. Open.UToronto enriches the global knowledge community with a growing catalogue of lectures and open access sites that includes thousands of pages of digital collections, journals, a research repository, learning objects and courses.

“The University of Toronto is extremely pleased to be a part of this exciting project to unlock the possibilities of open access education,” said Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost of the University of Toronto. “We are particularly pleased by Coursera’s focus on the quality of course offerings. They choose excellent universities as partners so this is a terrific opportunity to collaborate with our peers.”

Massive open online courses are an emerging trend in post-secondary education because they provide tremendous potential to bring education to people who do not have access to quality courses. Coursera (www.coursera.org) was developed by professors at Stanford University and earlier this year Princeton, Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania joined the consortium. In only six months, the Coursera platform has enabled 680,000 students from 190 countries gain access to 43 different university courses.

The University of Toronto is the first Canadian university to join Coursera.

Initially, U of T will deliver five open access, not-for-credit courses through Coursera. The Faculty of Arts & Science will feature two computer science courses on programming as well as one on neural networks for machine learning. A course on the social context of mental health and illness will be offered by the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education will present a course on Aboriginal world views in education.

In addition to U of T, other universities joining Coursera today are the California Institute of Technology, Duke University, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the University of Edinburgh, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, the University of California San Francisco, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington.