The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Coursera partners

Today the MOOC platform Coursera announced a new partnership with 10 major state flagships and state university systems. While Coursera’s existing university partnerships focus on professors at elite institutions producing and sharing online versions of their courses, these partnerships are different. The focus is on incorporating existing MOOCs and newly created MOOCs– covering basic intro level and general education requirements–into the universities’ offerings, flipping the classrooms at public institutions, using MOOCs as a catalyst for collaboration on teaching and learning, and to enhance access to credit-bearing programs.

One area of innovation that Coursera cofounder Daphne Koller singled out to me is the use of MOOCs for high school dual enrollment programs. “I’m really excited about it,” she said.

“There are so many studies that demonstrate the benefit to students in high school in having access to college-level material. It encourages them to go to college and complete college. But that opportunity has largely been available to the most advanced students at highly endowed school districts that have teachers that can teach college-level subjects. It’s been a very inequitable offering.”

Research suggests that having access to college courses doesn’t just benefit the highest achievers. It can give average performers a way to transition more easily into college and a head start on completing their degrees. It can potentially address the needs of the high percentages of public high school graduates who need remediation when they get to college. It could also save money, which is especially important for low-income students.

The problem has been that many high schools serving underprivileged students don’t have teachers qualified to teach at the college level. There also may be space constraints or other logistics issues with hosting high schoolers at local community colleges.

Koller says that the “self-contained” nature of a MOOC allows it to be facilitated on the ground, within a high school, by an instructor who is “passionate and motivated, but not necessarily expert.” The state of Ohio has already proposed funding the use of MOOCs in this way, to help with college readiness and address remedial needs.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Anya Kamenetz is a journalist, the author of The Stolen Year: How Covid Changed Children's Lives, And Where We Go Now, and a senior advisor to the Aspen Institute's This Is Planet Ed initiative.

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *