University of Pennsylvania

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Penn’s Online Learning Initiative (OLI) cultivates the integration of online programs across campus, supporting Penn’s schools in the creation of online degree and non-degree programs.

In 2012, Penn launched its first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and created an office dedicated to online learning. Initially called the Open Learning Initiative and later the Online Learning Initiative, OLI’s preliminary focus was producing MOOCs with Penn faculty and advising Penn leadership on online initiatives. Penn’s 12 schools offer over 150 MOOCs taught by over 150 faculty member that reach more than 4 million learners from almost every country in the world.

Today, OLI’s mission is much broader and the initiative serves as a nexus for information about online learning across Penn. The University currently offers a range of online educational opportunities including certificates, continuing education, microcredentials, and degrees.

A MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, is a single non-credit online learning experience focused on a specific skill or topic over 4-6 modules (or 4-6 weeks). The Massive part of MOOC means that courses have a high number of learners participating in the course. The Open part of MOOC means that anyone (over the age of 13) can participate. While some MOOCs may be free, most require a payment to earn a certificate or to participate in assessments. Completing a University of Pennsylvania MOOC does not result in University of Pennsylvania academic credit and does not give you Penn student status.

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