21 February 2013

University of Copenhagen partner in online learning platform


The University of Copenhagen is now an official partner in the world's most important platform for online courses, Coursera. The platform offers courses in everything from Søren Kierkegaard to global health, and the project looks to revolutionise the way in which we teach and are taught.

For some students the courses will supplement heavy academic tomes.

Providing access to world-class education without it costing a penny. This is basically the vision of the Internet platform Coursera, which supplies free online teaching to those who, for financial or geographical reasons, are unable to be taught at the world’s best universities.

Prestigious universities such as Stanford and Princeton were involved in starting Coursera, and now the University of Copenhagen has joined the partnership. The project, which was launched less than a year ago, has now grown to become the world’s most important platform for free online university courses. Today, Coursera is backed by an extensive range of universities, together offering several hundred courses. More than two million students worldwide have already registered for at least one course.

- Coursera is a revolutionary democratisation of access to knowledge which ties in well with the University of Copenhagen’s tradition that research and teaching should benefit society at large. We are already operating in a globalised world of research and education, and with Coursera the University’s interaction with the world will be considerably strengthened, says Ralf Hemmingsen, Rector of the University of Copenhagen.

Revolutionary access to knowledge

The new technology which makes Coursera possible means that thousands of students will be able to follow the same course. Short videos with teachers, researchers and experts interspersed with brief exercises and quizzes and access to advanced systems enabling students to evaluate each other’s work will all become part of the courses. In other words, it goes way beyond the broadcast lectures which have previously been the norm.

For students at the University of Copenhagen, online courses of this sort will never come to replace physical teaching. On the other hand, the courses will supplement heavy academic tomes, and thereby turn the self-study parts of the learning process into a social and far more exciting and interactive process.

From Kierkegaard to Nordic diet

The University of Copenhagen will offer eight online courses through Coursera. The courses will be launched within the next eighteen months, and will come from different areas of the university. However, what they all have in common is that they stem from research environments with strong international profiles. During 2013, for example, it will be possible to follow courses about the constitutional struggles in the Muslim world, the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard, global health challenges and New Nordic Diet.
For Professor Flemming Konradsen at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, who is helping to put together the new course on global health, Coursera offers certain advantages which would otherwise be hard to achieve:
- When you teach global health, it is a huge benefit for both students and teachers if many different nationalities are represented. The possibility for thousands of students from both north and south with a common interest in sharing their experiences and opinions makes the Coursera platform the obvious choice for teaching in Global Health.

In 2014, a further four courses about the universe and the origins of life, Scandinavian film and TV, measuring the causal relations in the social sciences and a course about the latest diabetes research will be added to the list of online courses from the University of Copenhagen.


Professor Flemming Konradsen
Telephone: +45 60 10 16 61

Lasse Jensen, Information Officer
Telephone: +45 21 84 74 91