For the next academic year, beginning in the fall, Rice will join a handful of other prestigious universities to offer a select number of courses online for free. Partnering with Coursera.com, the creation of Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Rice will offer classes in general chemistry, software programming, electrical engineering, analytical chemistry and nanotechnology.
Rice alum John Doerr — the rock star venture capitalist and public education reform advocate — is on Coursera's board of directors, with his firm (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) having provided Coursera with $16 million in venture funding.
“Rice is proud to be part of this new wave of technology-based learning in the company of some of the most prestigious universities in the United States and the world,” provost George McLendon said in a statement. “Coursera will bring widespread exposure to the excellence of Rice’s educational and research programs.”
Since its start with four participating universities in 2011, Coursera has seen 650,000 students from 190 countries enroll in its 43 courses in disciplines including the arts, literature, history, science and mathematics. Classes are free to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.
The courses will also offer a benefit to Rice students, who can use the materials as "supplemental or instructional resources," McLendon said.