Rice University To Offer More Massive Online Courses

Across the country, universities and colleges are experimenting with new online courses with massive enrollments. Here in Houston, Rice University has not only joined the experiment, but has decided to expand the number of online classes.

Want to learn the basics of electrical engineering? Study Socrates? Or discuss how religion and hip hop intersect?

Those are some of the newest online courses in development at Rice University.

Technically, they’re called MOOCs.

“It’s a massive open online class that the world has access to.”

That’s Caroline Levander with Rice University.

“With literally a click of a button you have access to a class that you wouldn’t have access to.”

By massive, she means tens of thousands of students enrolled in a single class.

Supporters see MOOCs as a way to expand access to higher education, even if a small percentage of students actually finish.

“These are clearly technology developments that our faculty want to experiment with, explore and really come to understand how these technologies would innovate our on campus teaching.”

Rice University has partnered with two of the main providers of massive online classes: Coursera and edX.

Other institutions involved with MOOCs include the University of Texas at Austin, Harvard and MIT.

The classes are free. Students who complete one of Rice’s class can receive a certificate for a fee – but not credit toward a degree.

Like other universities experimenting with this type of online class, Rice is still working out legal part — who owns the intellectual property rights.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...