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Hopkins, U.Va. to offer free online courses

Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia plan to offer free online courses under an agreement announced Tuesday.

Online platform Coursera said that the two schools are among 12 institutions that plan to offer the free, non-credit courses through its Internet-based learning system.

Other U.S. institutions in the agreement announced Tuesday include Duke and Rice universities, Georgia Tech, the universities of Washington and Illinois, the University of California — San Francisco and the California Institute of Technology. The three foreign schools are Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and the universities of Toronto and Edinburgh.

U.Va.’s initial offerings in 2013 will include three courses from the College of Arts & Sciences and one from the Darden School of Business.

President Teresa Sullivan said in a statement Tuesday that the courses will help raise U.Va.’s profile as a global higher education leader and reinforce its core missions of teaching, research and public service.

“They will in no way diminish the value of a U.Va. degree, but rather enhance our brand and allow others to experience the learning environment of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village,” Sullivan said in a statement, referring to the university founder’s ideal of shared, lifelong education.

The for-profit Coursera was founded by Stanford computer scientists Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. A similar venture is edX, a nonprofit partnership between Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that is planning to launch courses in the fall.

Udacity, another startup, is a for-profit operation that partners with individual faculty members to deliver courses online.