SANTA CRUZ -- Anyone with an Internet connection will be able to take a UC Santa Cruz class for free.
The university is one of 62 colleges worldwide to team with the digital platform Coursera to offer free online courses to the public.
Coursera launched in April 2012 as a social entrepreneurship company that partners with top universities such as Princeton, Stanford and University of Michigan to offer courses online.
The company currently offers more than 200 "massively open online courses."
UCSC is one of four University of California campuses chosen to work with Coursera. The others are Irvine, San Francisco and San Diego.
Campus officials are preparing to offer The Holocaust, taught by professors Murray Baumgarten and Peter Kenez; Children Acquiring Literacy Naturally by Dominic Massaro, a psychology professor; and C++ for C Programmers, which will be taught by longtime UCSC professor Ira Pohl.
Pohl, who has taught in UCSC's school of engineering since 1970, said the partnership with Coursera allows the university to expand its existing online program and gain exposure with potential students around the world.
Coursera will complement the fee-based online instruction UCSC already has offered for the past 15 years, he said.
"Coursera is letting prominent faculty with the ability to teach get their content out there," Pohl said. "In an idealistic way, we're hoping to educate the world."
Allison Galloway said she would like to add forensic anthropology, a class she teaches, to the Coursera lineup.
"Our involvement will help us better understand what works and what doesn't in the online world of instruction," Galloway said.
Chancellor George Blumenthal said the partnership will help make UCSC a key player in the movement to "democratize" higher education.
"We will be expanding the reach of UCSC faculty, and the knowledge they create, to people who are unable to join our on-campus community."
Coursera covers subjects such as humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business and computer science.
The classes include lectures, quizzes and tests like any traditional college course.
Students who successfully complete a Coursera class can request certification or a recommendation for credit from the American Council on Education. Visit www.coursera.org.
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