Ohio State University has became the latest Big Ten Conference school to join forces with Coursera, a relatively new company that helps institutions provide free, online classes.

On Wednesday, Coursera announced it has partnered with 17 new colleges to offer these massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

To date, UW-Madison has not gotten involved with this new trend, and Provost Paul DeLuca reiterated to me on Wednesday afternoon that the university has no immediate plans to jump on the MOOCs bandwagon.

In addition to Ohio State, Big Ten Conference schools Michigan-Ann Arbor and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign previously announced partnerships with Coursera.

The pace at which Coursera -– and the MOOCs movement in general -- is expanding is eye opening. In April, the universities of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Stanford announced they were teaming up with the company to deliver these free, online classes. In May, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unveiled a nonprofit partnership dubbed edX that will do something similar. In July, a dozen more schools announced new partnerships with Coursera, while Cal-Berkeley joined forces with edX.

Today, Coursera offers more than 200 free, online courses and reports that tens of thousands of students generally sign up for a typical class. The company notes that more than 1.37 million students -– or “Courserians” -- have signed up for at least one class. However, it must be noted that many of those who sign up never complete the class.

MOOCs shouldn’t be confused with traditional, for-credit online courses that nearly all institutions have been offering for years. Although the more traditional online courses charge tuition, they also lead to credits that can be put toward a degree. The institutions that offer free classes via Coursera do not award college credits for completing those courses.

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1) Go to library 2) Check out book 3) read it 4) Learn

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