UNM students will be able to take Coursera courses for credit with approval of the relevant academic department.
UNM students will be able to take Coursera courses for credit with approval of the relevant academic department.

The University of New Mexico and nine other state university systems and public flagships will be partnering with Coursera to explore the possibilities of using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to increase student access to high-quality online educational content.

Along with UNM, the institutions are State University of New York (SUNY), the Tennessee Board of Regents and University of Tennessee Systems, University of Colorado System, University of Houston System, University of Kentucky, University of Nebraska, University System of Georgia, and West Virginia University.

Each system and university plans to utilize Coursera's platform and MOOC technology differently. Usage options include:

  • Institutions and faculty to utilize Coursera's platform to create and experiment with 'blended learning' and MOOC content - whether in their own classrooms, across campuses, or to a wider Coursera audience.

  • Institutions and professors to collaborate with their peers within their own institutions and across other universities, and to enable them to use data from Coursera's platform to improve teaching and identify learning obstacles among students.

After proper vetting by the appropriate UNM faculty and authorities, UNM departments may accept some Coursera courses for credit and UNM faculty will be able to submit courses to Coursera to be taken by students at other universities for credit.

The UNM Faculty Senate passed a resolution in the spring 2013 semester to encourage studying opportunities and financial models for MOOCs.  The Coursera agreement is a small step in that direction.  The revenues generated by students taking courses offered by UNM faculty (Coursera will be charging students if they desire to get credit) will be shared with UNM.  UNM's Office of Academic Affairs will begin to study, with the faculty senate and others, approaches to sharing revenues with the faculty who generate them.

Academic departments will determine which Coursera courses can be accepted for credit at UNM.  The agreement does not require faculty to submit courses.  It simply gives UNM a seat at the table with other public flagship universities and systems as this fast developing medium grows.

UNM Provost Chaouki Abdallah said, "This may also provide some of our faculty members with an extra income stream (at a time when compensation increases have been anemic. ) I am hoping that UNM's faculty can claim some specific areas (such as anthropology, Southwestern literature or arts, courses taught in Spanish, etc) in the MOOC space.  Also some of our faculty could choose (as I do) the freely-available MOOC courses as an extra resource.  Free courses may also help reduce the cost of a degree and even allow some High School students to come to UNM better prepared for college work."

For academic purposes, the Coursea agreement will go into effect for the fall 2013 semester.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; email: kwent2@unm.edu