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US: UPenn MOOC dispels university application myths

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is launching a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) that will help prospective international students to better understand the US university application and admission process.

Erick Hyde, University English Language Programme Connection Counselling Specialist, is the course instructor. Photo: promotional video screenshot

The MOOC gained 2,100 signups in its first week of open registrations

“We hope to break down myths and anxiety about the university admissions process in the US”

The course, ‘Applying to US Universities’, is aimed at foreign students and non-native English speakers applying to undergraduate degree programmes in the USA. It will provide practical information about the documents needed for a university application and advice from admission officers about the criteria they use to select applicants.

The MOOC, which is already offered as an on-campus course to hundreds of international students every year, gained 2,100 signups in its first week of open registrations. Nora Lewis, the university’s Vice Dean for Professional and Liberal Education, said that around 25,000 foreign students are expected to take up the first offering of the course.

Lewis told The PIE News that online resources are often targeted at students already studying on an American, International Baccalaureate, or Advanced Placement curriculums, and UPenn wanted to provide a course for students outside these courses who may not have access to an admissions counsellor.

“Access is an important part of the mission of both the University of Pennsylvania and of Coursera,” she said. “We hope to break down myths and anxiety about the university admissions process in the US.”

“We want to rid students of the notion that of there is such a thing as the best college or university in America and replace it with an idea that the best college or university in America is the one at which they will succeed,” she added.

The course will be taught through a series of video lectures, and students will use discussion forums to learn from tutors and each other. They will demonstrate an understanding of the course material through quizzes and short-answer homework tasks, which can then be used to build a university application.

UPenn’s MOOC launch follows the launch of the British Council and UK’s MOOC platform Futurelearn‘s MOOC designed to improve English proficiency in India and provide a route into taking the IELTS test.

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