JAPAN - Many universities have found tremendous success in attracting students from abroad by making their lectures available to the public free of charge on the Internet. The University of Tokyo and Kyoto University have expressed their intention of joining the bandwagon of massive open online courses (MOOC) that provide distance education via video and other means.
Hitoshi Murayama recently gave a lecture in English on the origins and development of the universe at the University of Tokyo.
"Today I'll talk about the Higgs particle, which has been everywhere in the news lately," Murayama, director of Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, said as a video camera recorded the lecture.
The lecture will be offered online from this autumn on Coursera, a MOOC site with more than 4 million registered users worldwide.
Massive open online courses offer not only video lectures and open access to educational materials, but opportunities for interactive learning.
Typically registration is free, and participants can engage in discussion with other students and ask the lecturers questions.
Homework is assigned and tests are administered, and a certificate is issued to those who complete the course. Some US universities grant course credits for the certificates.
Coursera, which the University of Tokyo plans to join, is home to many prestigious overseas universities including Yale, Princeton and California Institute of Technology.
Tokyo University Associate Prof. Yuhei Yamauchi, an educational technology expert who serves on Coursera's management team, said, "We'd like to attract outstanding students by offering our university's upper-level coursework." According to Yamauchi, 40,000 students--including some outside Japan--have registered for the two courses that the university plans to offer.