To: All Faculty
From: Robert L. Clark
Interim Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

I am writing to update you on our continuing exploration of online education, including the launch of a new experiment with a well-known provider and the discontinuation of our earlier efforts with Semester Online.

The new initiative is a partnership with Coursera, which we are announcing this evening. Along with 28 other universities, we are joining the 33 schools already associated with Coursera by making a commitment to provide three or more massive open online courses. These courses will not be offered for credit at our University. The intent is to share more broadly our expertise in these areas and to increase visibility for the University and the programs we offer here.

These courses will be taught by John Covach of the Department of Music and the Eastman School of Music (History of Rock); by Adam Frank of the Department of Physics and Astronomy (Confronting the Big Questions: Highlights of Modern Astronomy); and by Mark Bocko, Director of our recently established Audio and Music Engineering program, and myself (Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering). It is our hope that this pilot effort will provide significant visibility for the university. It also will provide us important data as we explore this new arena.

We also have decided at this time not to pursue a partnership with the online provider 2U and the consortium of universities that I wrote to you about in November. Though their model was promising, and we learned much through our engagement with the consortium during the past six months, after careful analysis we have decided that it is not the best path forward for us. We will instead be focusing our efforts in the near term on our partnership with Coursera, and in the longer term seeking other new ways to make use of technology in the classroom and online for the benefit of our students, faculty, and other members of our community. In those efforts we will continue to work closely with the recently established University-wide Committee on Online Learning as well as various groups within academic divisions.

As always, I look forward to your ideas as we investigate this new and rapidly expanding terrain in education.