University | 8:25 pm | May 15, 2013 | By Sophie Gould

Yale expands online education, appoints new director

Following a December report that encouraged the University to prioritize online education, Yale is answering the call.

In a Wednesday email to the Yale community, Provost Benjamin Polak announced the University’s new partnership with Coursera, an online education platform used by Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. Polak also announced the creation of a new standing committee on online education and the appointment of music professor Craig Wright to the new position of academic director of online education.

In the email, Polak stressed the importance of using online education to explore new teaching strategies that can be used in Yale classrooms.

“To build on the progress we already have made in this area, we need to take care that our online initiatives complement and enrich Yale’s traditional pedagogy,” Polak said in the email. “We are placing [importance] on web-based teaching not just as a means of global access to Yale courses, but also as a mechanism for exploring new ways to teach the classes that we offer here on campus.”

Yale’s first courses with Coursera will be available in 2014 and will be taught by political science professor Akhil Amar, psychology professor Paul Bloom, art history and classics professor Diana Kleiner and economics professor Robert Shiller.

Polak said these free, non-credit courses will “offer opportunities for individuals around the world to benefit from Yale’s excellent teaching and scholarship.”

Wright, the newly appointed academic director of online education, will work closely with the Yale Teaching Center to “shape the academic policies Yale will need to address [online education],” Polak said.

Wright previously co-chaired the faculty committee on online education and taught online courses for Yale Summer Session and for Open Yale Courses.

Polak added that Director of Digital Media and Dissemination Lucas Swineford will continue to work with the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Public Affairs and Communications and University Chief Information Officer Len Peters to develop the University’s approach to online education.

Polak will also appoint a new standing committee this summer to advise him on developing online initiatives. Chaired by Wright, the committee will be composed of faculty members, administrators and two students.

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