The University of Toronto’s first online course offerings have attracted over 85,000 students. Three computer science courses are being offered for free in partnership with Coursera, an online learning platform that also offers courses from universities such as Princeton and Stanford.

Suzanne Stevenson, vice-dean of teaching and learning in the Faculty of Arts and Science, sees the high demand for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) as the next step in bringing university education to a wide range of people.

“Passive in-class lecturing is being replaced with interactive video clips and online materials,” she said.

For Jennifer Campbell, who is co-teaching two of the courses, one of the challenges is loss of face-to-face time. Though students will be assessed through quizzes, exams, and assignments, “instructor-student interactions aren’t possible in a MOOC”, she noted.

The first course, “Learning to Program: The Fundamentals,” will begin September 24.

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