More students enroll in MOOCS in four days than enrolled in entire freshman class

Jordan Rudner

The UT System opened its first-ever massive open online courses Friday on the online platform edX. By the time the weekend was over, nearly 15,000 students had enrolled.

In comparison, UT’s current freshman class — the largest ever recorded at the University — is a class of 8,092. 

Harrison Keller, vice provost for higher education policy and research senior lecturer, said the University hopes to help facilitate the sharing of knowledge, even though the courses will not count as course credits.

“This is one of the most interesting frontiers we’re exploring,” Keller said to The Daily Texan in February. “These courses are aimed at personal enrichment and lifelong learning.”

The four online classes launched by the System include “Ideas of the 20th Century,” “Energy 101,” “Age of Globalization” and “Take Your Medicine — The Impact of the Drug Development.” 

“Energy 101” is the most popular course so far, boasting more than 5,000 registrants by Monday morning.

The University plans to launch an additional set of courses next spring, including “Jazz Appreciation,” “Foundations of Data Analysis,” “Mathematics and Effective Thinking,” “Introduction to Embedded Systems” and “Linear Algebra: Theory and Computation.” 

In the coming months, the System plans to reconfigure several entry level courses traditionally composed of several hundreds of students. Last year, the System created the Institute for Transformational Learning with the broader goal of “establish[ing] University of Texas institutions as world leaders in developing and implementing best-in-class resources for online learning.”