On average, it will cost $55,600 to attend Princeton, Penn, Michigan or Stanford next year. But now you can enroll in online courses at all four universities online for free.
The universities won’t just be posting lectures online like MIT’s OpenCourseWare project, Yale’s Open Yale Courses and the University of California at Berkeley’s Webcast. Rather, courses will require deadlines, evaluations, discussions and, in some cases, a statement of achievement.
“The technology as well as the sociology have finally matured to the point where we are ready for this,” says Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, the for-profit platform classes will run on.
“This is a group that didn’t grow up at a time when there weren’t browsers,” Koller adds. “They have the mental state that allows them to say, ‘I’m willing to get a good portion of my education online.’”
Coursera grew out of an experiment in Stanford’s computer science department that opened up a handful of classes to non-Stanford students via the Internet. The online students received a signed letter from the instructor (but no credit) upon completion.