Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a small non-profit school, has gained a reputation for its adoption of for-profit marketing and operating techniques, relying on prolific advertising and a faculty of low-paid adjuncts to teach its online courses. More recently the school earned the unenviable title of "The Amazon of Higher Education". [more inside]
Brian Greene is now offering an online course on the theory of relativity. There are two versions of the class, one with math and one without. Additional information was provided during Greene's recent Ask Me Anything on reddit, during which he agrees with a redditor who recommends Leonard Susskind's "Theoretical Minimum"(previously) as a good preliminary.
Udacity, who, along with Coursera and edX, has been one of the "big three" MOOC providers is stepping back from its initial vision, to refocus on corporate training. Now that we've had a bit of time to think through the potential offered by MOOCs, and to assess how well they live up to them in practice, what conclusions are people drawing? Is it possible that MOOCs have value, but just aren't the same sort of animal as a traditional "bricks and mortar" course? Jonathan Freedman, from the University of Michigan, thinks so, and calls them "usefully Middlebrow." John Covach of the University of Rochester talks in depth about his own experiences, and frames MOOC courses as more akin to a public lecture series than a college course.
A MOOC on planning and running MOOCs run by a leading MOOC company has spectacularly collapsed [more inside]
The State of Minnesota has informed Coursera that it cannot offer courses to Minnesota residents because it has not obtained permission to do so from the state. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog reports on the story here. The State was acting pursuant to the "Minnesota Private and Out-of-State Public Postsecondary Education Act," which requires schools to register with the state if they offer courses in Minnesota and requires approval if degrees are granted or the words "college" or "university" are used in the name of a school. The law was enacted in 1975 and appears to have been intended to be a consumer protection law. Noted First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh has opined at his blog that the statute is unconstitutional, at least as applied to a web site that offers its courses for free and does not grant degrees.
The Global Language Online Support System (or GLOSS), produced by the Defense Language Institute in sunny Monterey, CA, offers over six thousand free lessons in 38 languages from Albanian to Uzbek, with particular emphasis on Chinese, Persian, Russian, Korean, and various types of Arabic. The lessons include both reading and listening components and are refreshingly based on real local materials (news articles, radio segments, etc.) rather than generic templates. [more inside]
The Virtual Training Company Online University is packed with free, quickly downloaded visual lessons to over 50 major programs. This site covers most major-market releases, though not Dreamweaver 3, I'm afraid. The resolution is pretty good, but if it must be perfect you may pay an extra $25 and get the works.