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Free university e-learning courses attract thousands

schedule 19th August 2011 by Alex Bateman in Virtual College

Stanford University free e-learning online degree attracts thousands

In 2011, Stanford University's free introductory distance learning online degree in artificial intelligence attracted thousands of students, barely a month after it was announced.

It represented the world's first completely free, open-access university-level course utilising the virtual learning environment and attracted 58,000 learners in just a matter of weeks, according to a report in the New York Times.

The start of free online distance learning

Such was the initial popularity of the experimental online learning project that Stanford University's computer science department quickly announced a further two free online distance learning courses.

"The vision is: change the world by bringing education to places that can't be reached today," said Dr Sebastian Thrun, one of the world's most prolific and respected artificial intelligence experts and a course instructor.

"Through the web's capabilities, we are extending the reach of existing education," he told the Daily Telegraph.

Why are free university e-learning courses so popular?

Distance learning courses delivered via e-learning programmes allow people to learn at their own pace, wherever and whenever is most convenient to them. When learners are able to study in an environment they are comfortable in, they are more likely to retain information.

If it's their first time studying at university level, having the chance to go back over aspects they didn't quite understand can be hugely beneficial.

Free open university courses give people the chance to enhance their knowledge in a range of subject areas. This could open up new opportunities for them in many different sectors, as well as helping them to progress in their current careers, so these courses are always going to be popular.

At Virtual College, we have a wide variety of distance learning courses that provide all of these benefits. Whether it's just time or money as well that you're investing in expanding your knowledge, it's always going to be a valuable investment.

Explore our complete range of courses here.

Related resources

Alex Bateman - Virtual College

Author: Alex Bateman

Alex is interested in the strategic application of learning and development. In particular how organisations can promote engagement with ongoing learning campaigns. He spends his spare time renovating his Victorian house. Ask him about his floors, I dare you.

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