As COVID-19 sweeps across the world, colleges and universities are feeling its impact.
In an effort to stem its spread, universities around the world are taking a variety of precautionary measures. For example in South Korea, where the academic year starts in early March, universities have pushed back the start date to an undetermined time in the future.
In the United States, universities are taking a variety of approaches, including recalling students who are studying abroad, extending spring break, moving classes online, and even sending students home.
On Tuesday (March 10), for example, Harvard announced that it is transitioning to online instruction by March 23 and asked students not to return to campus after spring break, which begins this weekend.
New York’s SUNY and CUNY are also moving to online learning for the remainder of the spring semester beginning next week. In his announcement, Governor Cuomo said: “CUNY and SUNY, starting March 19, will move to a distance learning model. And both systems will be doing that. CUNY will help reduce the density in New York City. SUNY will help reduce the density in downstate New York. That is SUNY Purchase, Stony Brook, Westbury, etc. Downstate is where we have the highest density of cases now.”
These measures, while necessary, will affect students’ lives and education, and it is crucial that the transition to an online class format be seamless.
To assist in the process, Coursera, which was founded in 2012 by two Stanford computer science professors, has launched a free Coursera for Campus program.
Any university in the world that has been impacted by the virus can now get free access to Coursera’s course catalog.
Once a university signs up, it will receive up to 5,000 licenses for its students to use to access more than 3,800 courses and 400 specializations offered by Coursera’s leading university and industry partners.
Coursera currently has more than 190 partner universities and companies from around the world. Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia, Stanford, Duke University, and NYU are among the participating U.S. universities. And Cisco, Google, IBM, the Linus Foundation, and the Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy, among others, are among Coursera’s partners.
Under the program, impacted universities will have access until July 31, 2020. Then, depending on the situation, universities may be given access on a month-to-month basis, if necessary.
Students who enroll on or before the July 31st deadline, however, will have until September 30, 2020 to complete their courses.
According to Coursera, the program is already being used by universities to support online learning. Duke University, for example, has been using the program for the past several weeks to help impacted students at its Duke Kunshan campus in China.
Matthew Rascoff, associate vice provost for digital education and innovation at Duke Learning Innovation, has this to say about the program on the Coursera for Campus site: “Coursera for Campus helped Duke Kunshan University make a quick online pivot when the campus was closed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Faculty benefited from access to a high-quality library of courseware from hundreds of Coursera partners. Students dived right into learning new skills on their own – some finishing four courses in just the first few days.”
Universities interested in the Coursera for Campus program can apply here.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.