UH System Launches Its First Massive Open Online Courses

Enrollment Now Open for AP Calculus, AP Statistics and Classroom Management at No Cost

The University of Houston System launched its first three Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, offering unlimited participation and open access free of charge. The classes now open for enrollment are for students planning to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus and Statistics exams this May and for high school teachers and administrators looking to improve their classroom management skills.

As the only participating partner from Texas, the UH System has the most upcoming courses of the 10 U.S. state universities that joined Coursera last May. The UH System plans to have two additional courses listed by the end of spring – “A Brief History of Human Space Flight” and “Ethics in Science.”

“We’re hoping these courses will be effective in our outreach efforts with the community, empowering people who might not otherwise have access to this level of education,” said Jeff Morgan, associate provost of education innovation and technology. “There isn’t a cap on enrollment in these MOOCs, and we eventually hope to see a combined enrollment of 10,000 students in these initial offerings.”

The first two classes – “Preparing for the AP Calculus AB Exam” and “Preparing for the AP Statistics Exam” – start March 17 and will last for six weeks. All that’s required of students is an Internet connection, along with time to read, watch instructional videos, work on problems and discuss the material. Each course will consist of several weekly lecture videos over content taught in high school AP Calculus AB and AP Statistics classes, respectively. There will be quizzes over the content reviewed each week, as well as optional standalone homework assignments and class discussion forums to check for understanding, preparing students for these two AP exams. Practice exams will be given at the end of each course.

Morgan says more than 280,000 students took the AP Calculus AB exam last year, with 25 percent of them making a grade of 5, which is the highest score. He feels strongly this MOOC can help many of the students who would otherwise make 3s and 4s bring their scores up to a 5. Traditionally, he says, every student who makes a 5 is awarded college credit for calculus regardless of where they go to college.

The other mathematics MOOC is designed to prepare high school seniors to pass the AP Statistics exam. Morgan says more than 150,000 students took that exam in 2013. The combined enrollment for these two courses has surpassed 3,000 students. With three weeks remaining to register, Morgan says there is potential to enroll many more students, since these are the only MOOCs of their type.

The third MOOC being offered was developed by UH-Victoria and will begin April 7. Titled “Applying Principles of Behavior in the K-12 Classroom,” this course spans four weeks and will be very helpful to high school teachers and administrators. It will teach participants practical skills in the reinforcement and assessment of behavior. Those who successfully complete the course will be able to assess challenging behavior in their classrooms and create effective interventions. The class will offer instruction on how to conduct a functional behavior assessment, also known as an FBA. The course is approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as a continuing professional education credit course.

“Ultimately, we look forward to using MOOC technology and content to improve completion, quality and access to higher education,” Morgan said. “Long-term goals include the potential to offer courses to non-matriculated students interested in continuing their education, but who might not have access to campus resources. Additionally, we hope to help enhance high school dual-enrollment programs, offering these MOOCs to schools that lack instructors qualified to teach college-level content. Next year, we will offer full-year courses in AP Calculus and AP Statistics through Coursera.”

Other MOOCs the UH System has in the works include courses associated with programing handheld devices, new technology tools for education and educational uses of digital story telling.

For more information on or to enroll in any of the UH System’s initial MOOC offerings through Coursera, visit https://www.coursera.org.

The University of Houston System is a comprehensive system of higher education institutions serving to further the intellectual capital and economic strength of the Gulf Coast region. The UH System includes the University of Houston, a nationally recognized Tier One public research university; the University of Houston-Downtown, a four-year undergraduate university expanding into graduate programs; the University of Houston-Victoria, a four-year university with undergraduate and master’s level degree programs; and the University of Houston-Clear Lake, an upper-division and master’s level institution. The system also includes three branch campuses, UH-Clear Lake Pearland, UH System - Northwest and UH Sugar Land, as well as a multi-institution teaching center, UH System Cinco Ranch. In addition, the System owns and operates Houston Public Media (HPM). HPM comprises KUHF-FM, Houston’s National Public Radio station; KUHA-FM, Houston’s 24-hour classical music station; and KUHT-TV, the nation’s first educational television station. To learn more about the UH System, visit http://www.uhsa.uh.edu/.

Coursera believes in connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits. Coursera is on a mission to educate millions of people by offering classes from top universities and organizations online for free. Coursera’s comprehensive education platform combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content and a global community of peers, offering students a unique online learning experience. Coursera has partnered with top-tier universities and organizations to provide courses across a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, literature, history, computer science and the arts, among others. Coursera is backed by leading venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.