When the University of Illinois announced it would offer online courses for free, thousands of prospective students came running.
Illinois' opening registration day for its 10 new, free online courses pulled in around 14,000 enrollments, according to the Chicago Tribune.
U of I joined several top research universities like Duke and the University of Virginia, to partner with Coursera, which calls itself a social entrepreneurship company hoping to give everyone access to the world-class education.
Coursera is part of a trend of "massive online open classrooms," often referred to simply as MOOCs, looking to revolutionize student accessibility to prestigious schools.
The company was founded last fall by two Standford University professors. Coursera and its partner institutions offer and do not charge for over 100 courses in the sciences, arts and more. Students who once found their academic lives restricted by financial straits or strange work hours may now further their educations online.
MOOCs are not the same as traditional credit-bearing online course, as Joshua Kim points out on Inside Higher Ed.
"The critical difference is that a well-designed online course is built around the co-construction of knowledge amongst the students and the instructor," Kim writes. "This knowledge construction requires active and personal engagement between students and faculty."
Kim argues that no matter how well designed a MOOC is, the experience "with 160,000 fellow learners (as in Stanford's AI course) will never be comparable to a well-designed traditional online, blended or face-to-face course."
"They are as much substitutes for traditional courses (online, blended, or face-to-face), as Facebook is for real friends," he adds.
Another MOOC, known as edX, created a partnership between MIT and Harvard. According to The Atlantic around 120,000 students signed up for the first MIT edX course, called "Circuits and Electronics" back in March.
Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller told the Tribune U of I's most popular course teaches students how to create smartphone applications.
Like U of I's MOOCs, edX's courses are set to begin in the fall.
Temple, a public research university in Philadelphia, has announced it will freeze base tuition for in-state and out-of-state undergraduate students enrolled for the 2012-13 academic year. In-state undergrads will pay $13,006 for their tuition next year. Photo Credit: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WTP_B15_Audrey_1.jpg" target="_hplink">Mblumber</a>
The University of Massachusetts School of Law proposed capping annual tuition for three years. The Wall Street Journal <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/06/27/umass-law-freezes-tuition/" target="_hplink">reports</a> that the young school's full-time in-state tuition will hold steady at $23,068 and its full-time out-of-state tuition will remain at $30,760. UMass Law opened its doors in 2010.
UC And Cal State Systems
After years of budget cuts, tuition hikes and no salary increases for faculty, the California state Senate passed a budget that would freeze tuition at the University of California and California State University systems. However, as the <a href="http://www.dailycal.org/2012/06/27/approved-budget-secures-tuition-freeze-uc-csu-students/" target="_hplink">Daily Cal noted</a>: <blockquote>[That is] contingent on a November ballot initiative that Californians will vote on to decide whether to increase the state's sales taxes, ultimately creating tax brackets that would introduce higher tax rates for high-income earners in the state.</blockquote>
University Of Maine
The University of Maine system lost $2.3 million in state appropriations this year, but chose not to implement tuition hikes. Photo Credit: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UMaine_StevensHall.jpghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UMaine_StevensHall.jpg" target="_hplink">NightThree</a>
Maine Community Colleges
It's not just the universities. For the eighth time in 14 years, Maine <a href="http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/community-college-system-freezes-tuition-beginning-in-fall_2012-06-27.html" target="_hplink">will freeze tuition</a> at all of its community college campuses. Photo Credit: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CMCC_Exterior.jpg" target="_hplink">Dragonflies1995</a>
Arizona Public Universities
For the first time in 20 years, there will be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/higher-ed-tuition-hikes-2012_n_1446559.html" target="_hplink">no tuition hike</a> at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University or the University of Northern Arizona. And in a deal reached by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and legislators, the state's higher education spending is increasing. Photo Credit:<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Main_%28U_of_Arizona%29.jpg" target="_hplink"> Jopxton </a>
University Of Texas At Austin
UT Austin, the state's flagship campus, will <a href="http://www.theeagle.com/article/20120617/BC0103/120619644/1006/BC0103&slId=1" target="_hplink">not increase tuition</a> next year, despite opposition to a freeze by school officials. Other UT campuses will be allowed to raise tuition. Critics contend that political influence by Gov. Rick Perry (R) is the reason for the Board of Regents' tuition decisions. Photo Credit: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UT_Austin_Mustangs_campus.JPG" target="_hplink">Zereshk</a>