UPenn Offers Free Online Education
It's an Ivy League education with the price tag to prove it, but now the University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies is offering the Ivy League experience to anyone with an internet connection.
"The Open Learning Commons is really about opening windows to a wider audience... to students who don't have access to our courses," said Director of Program Development Marnie Baker Stein.
Soft launched in January, the site combines elements of facebook with online education site Blackboard to create a social learning platform that brings course materials to the masses.
"Users can watch the lectures, they can participate in discussion forums. They can read along with the blogs by students and professors," said Baker Stein.
Anyone can access the information posted, but interacting requires free online registration.
"Once you've filled in a profile, you can participate in our interactive features... and join our community of learners," explained Baker Stein.
As the site's pilot project, a course on global climate change gets video recorded, then posted to the site. There, users can provide feedback on course development, including a presentation that's currently being developed by the students on global climate change policy.
"This is not a drill. This is a real time exercise as these policies evolve. So, it makes a truly exciting way to learn and teach," said Political Science Professor Don Kettl, who teaches the course.
Staff say a psychology course will be featured on the site in June. From there, it depends on many factors, including the success of the site, which already attracts eight-thousand unique visitors per week.
To experience Penn's Open Learning Commons, click here.