UT, TBR systems team with Coursera on pilot progra...

UT, TBR systems team with Coursera on pilot program for classes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee and Tennessee Board of Regents systems are working with Coursera, a leading provider of massive open online courses, to develop a pilot program using the company’s technology to enhance online and campus-based blended learning courses.

Coursera announced its partnerships with 10 state university systems and public university flagships across the United States today.

Middle Tennessee State University is part of the TBR system, which includes six state universities, 13 community colleges and 27 technology centers providing programs across the state to more than 203,000 students.

The agreement with the UT and TBR systems will involve an 18-month pilot program to test Coursera’s technology platform for class offerings.

Faculty at public universities in Tennessee will teach and prepare a limited number of pilot courses, available to enrolled students, using the company’s technology platform as early as this fall.

Coursera Inc. was founded in 2011 by two Stanford University computer science professors and specializes in offering online courses to large audiences at little to no cost.

In addition to the Tennessee systems, the partnership will include the State University of New York, the University of Colorado system, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska, the University of New Mexico, the University System of Georgia and West Virginia University.

The Tennessee public university pilot program will not include massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Instead, it will test use of the Coursera course technology platform to enhance student outcomes in two courses in the UT system and two courses in TBR universities. Feedback from faculty and students will be used to determine whether more courses will be offered through the Coursera platform.

“The company’s online course technology provides an innovative format that allows for student interactions to be quickly analyzed, so course content can be adjusted to help improve learning,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan. “We’d like to see if that can help us help students become more successful.

“If the program is effective, this will be an important tool available to faculty who are already engaged in student learning and success.”

The pilot program fits within the UT System Strategic Plan, which includes studying online course and degree offerings throughout the UT system.

“It is important that we be open to testing new approaches and theories, particularly those surrounding the impact of technology on higher education, and diligent in efforts to respond to the needs of faculty as well as the needs of those we serve,” said UT System President Joe DiPietro.

Both TBR and UT have been engaged in online, distance and blended learning opportunities for years.

In addition to the numerous online programs offered directly through universities across the TBR system, the Regents Online Campus Collaborative at TBR has offered a wide variety of online diploma, certificate and college and university degree programs since 2002.

Through its campuses, the UT system offers more than 40 online academic programs.

The Coursera pilot is expected to enhance those efforts and others already taking place at various UT and TBR institutions.

The pilot program is the result of discussions between UT and TBR officials and UT Knoxville alumnus Randy Boyd, named earlier this year as the governor’s special advisor on higher education. The effort is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative to increase education attainment levels across the state.

The University of Tennessee, founded in 1794, is the state’s land-grant institution and comprising campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; the Health Science Center based in Memphis; and the statewide institutes of agriculture and public service. UT enrolls nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students across the state.

For more information about the new program, contact Monica Greppin-Watts, communications director for the Tennessee Board of Regents, at 615-366-4417 or, or Elizabeth Davis, assistant director of media relations for the University of Tennessee System, at 865-974-5179 or

For more information about Coursera, visit