News / USA

Online Universities Offer Free Classes to Millions

Online Universities Offer Free Classes to Millionsi
X
February 28, 2013 10:13 PM
The academic world took notice in 2011 when a Stanford University professor offered an online course on artificial intelligence for free, and more than 160,000 students from around the world registered for it. Stanford’s success prompted other major universities such as Harvard and MIT to follow suit and that brought increased attention and funding to organizations developing free Internet-based education programs. VOA's Brian Padden has more from Palo Alto, California.
Brian Padden
The academic world took notice in 2011 when a Stanford University professor offered an online course on artificial intelligence for free, and more than 160,000 students from around the world registered for it. Stanford’s success prompted other major universities such as Harvard and MIT to follow suit and that brought increased attention and funding to organizations developing free Internet-based education programs. 

An engineering class at Stanford University is being recorded as an online course. The university is offering 30 to 40 free courses online, and more than 1.5 million students have enrolled. There are regular schedules, homework and tests but those enrolled do not earn credit toward a university degree. John Mitchell, the Vice Provost for Online Learning at Stanford, says the university offers these course as a public service.

“We’re teachers. This is what we love to do. If we can see people around the world learning from us, that’s rewarding. That’s what gets us up in the morning,” Mitchell said.

These free courses are also meant to entice students to apply to Stanford or enroll in other online classes that are not free. While online education is expanding the reach of major universities, Mitchell says they will not replace the on-campus experience.

But David Stavens, who taught at Stanford and recently co-founded a free online university called Udacity, says a quality education is becoming too expensive for most people.

“It’s a good system for a lot of people but there is another set of people who are equally smart, equally determined, equally hard working but who don’t quite fit into the mold, and it’s an unfair system for them,” Stavens said.

While Udacity is a for-profit company, the vast majority of its courses are free and they are developed specifically for online students. They include short videos, followed by exercises designed to engage the student and reinforce the lesson.

Students can pay for video conference tutoring or use the free chat rooms to discuss problems with their peers.  

While the number of universities offering online classes is growing, some classes are free and others are not.  The Khan Academy is a non-profit free website that contains over 3,500 video classes in a variety of languages and is utilized by six million people each month.
 
Salman Khan founded the company. He says it wasn't difficult to recruit donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by offering a quality education to everyone in the world.  

“Anytime, with so little incremental on your part, you can create essentially an unlimited potential on someone else’s part, I think it would be a shame not to do it,” Khan said.

Critics say there are flaws with online education, citing studies that show a higher drop out rate for online students. But proponents say the evolving technology is coming together to open up new educational opportunities as never before to millions around the world.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid