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The University will begin putting single subjects online early next year and expects to have about 10 subjects available through Coursera by the end of 2013.
It is one part of a suite of initiatives in the area of e-learning and online teaching and learning that the University is pursuing.
Other initiatives include using technology to enhance interaction and collaboration in existing campus based courses and setting up an e-learning incubator to encourage more agile and rapid development of learning technologies.
University of Melbourne Provost Professor Margaret Sheil said the University was delighted to join Coursera and leading universities, including Stanford and Princeton, in offering courses to a broad and diverse new audience who otherwise may not have the chance to engage with the University.
“We are pleased to be the first Australian university to partner with Coursera to offer free online subjects to anyone, anywhere in the world, with a computer and Internet access,” she said.
"The past year has seen an explosion in interest in online opportunities that will challenge traditional ways of delivering education, Melbourne is looking forward to being at the forefront of those developments.
“Our initial set of subject offerings through Coursera will be diverse, ranging from macroeconomics and animal behaviour to discrete optimization and epigenetics.
“As well as opening up to online offerings, the University is looking at ways to increase our use of technology in existing campus based courses to improve interactivity and enhance the learning experience for our students on campus.”
The University of Melbourne is one of 17 universities joining Coursera this week, bringing the total number of universities partnering with the online course provider to 33.
Coursera offers more than 120 subjects from some of the world’s top universities online to more than a million learners around the world.
The e-learning platform makes extensive use of short video lectures, interactive content and a global community of peers, offering students a unique learning experience.