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Nuclear science among first Pitt courses offered online through Coursera


PITTSBURGH  (September 19, 2012) ... The University of Pittsburgh announced that it will be among the 32 schools worldwide partnering with Coursera, a California-based education company collaborating with top universities across the globe to provide free, interactive course materials online to millions of learners. In partnering with Coursera, Pitt hopes to explore innovative ways of teaching, hone pedagogical techniques that contribute to learning and engagement, and expand its educational reach.

"We look forward to taking part in this innovative online platform in concert with leading universities from around the world," said Pitt's Provost Patricia E. Beeson. "This collaboration will provide our faculty members with excellent opportunities to explore, in a thoughtful way, the potential of this new educational tool to reach and teach students with high-quality intellectual content."

Coursera, which was developed in 2011 by two Stanford University professors, encourages the development and sharing of "massively open online courses," known as MOOCs. Since its first course offerings six months ago, Coursera has seen its number of learners grow to 1.3 million students around the world. There is no cost for classes, which are open to the public. 

Pitt will offer five classes from the Schools of Education, Engineering, and Nursing in its first round of offerings, and each will range from six to seven weeks in length. Courses will include short video lectures combined with online quizzes and interactive discussion forums. Each faculty member determines the length, content, and style of his/her class. No academic credit is awarded for the Pitt classes.

"By engaging our faculty with the Coursera platform, we are part of a larger effort to explore pedagogical techniques in very large enrollment courses," said Cynthia Golden, director of Pitt's Center for Instructional Development and Online Education. "Through our participation, we will learn more about online learning methods, assessment, and increasing active learning and student engagement by moving the lecture outside the classroom. It is our hope that our faculty can use what we collectively discover about learning and teaching in their campus-based courses."

Among the courses to be offered by Pitt are:

• "Disaster Preparedness" by Michael Beach, offered by the School of Nursing
• "Clinical Terminology for International Students" by Valerie Swigart and Michael Gold, offered by the School of Nursing
• "Accountable Talk®: Conversation that Works" by Lauren Resnick and Jennifer Sherer, offered by the School of Education
• "Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health" by John Jakicic and Amy Rickman, offered by the School of Education 
• "A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology" by Larry Foulke, offered by the Swanson School of Engineering

Other universities who have signed agreements with Coursera include the University of Michigan; Princeton University; Stanford University; the University of Pennsylvania; California Institute of Technology; Duke University; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; Georgia Institute of Technology; Johns Hopkins University; University of Illinois; Rice University; University of California, San Francisco; University of Edinburgh, UK; University of Toronto; University of Virginia; and University of Washington. 

The most recently announced partners are Berklee College of Music; Brown University; Columbia University; Emory University; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, China; Mount Sinai Medical School; The Ohio State University; University of British Columbia, Canada; University of California, Irvine; University of Florida; University of London, UK; University of Maryland; University of Melbourne, Australia; Vanderbilt University; and Wesleyan University. 

Pitt's classes in partnership with Coursera are expected to debut during the 2012-2013 academic year. Participation with Coursera will be an addition to the University's online teaching portfolio, which already includes Pitt Online, a portal for online certificate and professional degree-granting programs.

About Coursera
Coursera's comprehensive education platform combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content, and a global community of peers, offering students from around the world a unique online learning experience. Coursera has partnered with 32 top-tier universities to provide courses across a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, literature, history and computer science, among others. Through partnerships with these elite universities, more than 200 courses are now available to millions of students around the globe. For more information, visit www.coursera.org. 


Contact: B. Rose Huber