No tuition, deadlines or grades at new university
NextGenU.org now offering first course
A University of British Columbia professor is taking post-secondary education to a whole new level.
Erica Frank, a professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health, has created NextGenU — the world’s first university free of cost, advertisements, barriers and carbon emissions.
An online endeavour, NextGenU has just begun to offer its first course, emergency medicine, to students around the world. All students have to do is log on and they can start immediately.
“Our goal is to democratize education,” Frank said.
Courses are developed in conjunction with recognized organizations that share their knowledge and help to ensure the lessons are of high quality.
For example, Frank explained that the course climate change and health was developed in partnership with 350.org, the David Suzuki Foundation, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the UBC.
“They’re really outstanding resources that would be available no place else even for money and they’re available here for free,” Frank said.
Most of the current courses are related to health sciences but there are plans to develop classes in the areas of arts and law.
The courses work by having students complete online learning modules. They are assigned a peer in the course who they work with on case studies and other assignments.
Students are also encouraged to find a mentor in their local area who can expand on the information learned online.
There is no time frame to complete a course in and there are no grades. Instead you are assessed based on self-reports, peer-to-peer evaluations, reviews by your mentor and quizzes throughout the course. There is a final multiple choice exam.
Frank said she thinks most of the students will come from rural and remote areas in places like Africa where training is not easily accessible.
NextGenU has secured placement with nine countries in Africa that will allow the university to help train their surgeons. Frank said already established universities in Africa and elsewhere are free to use the courses too.
As for Mount Royal University, head registrar David Wood said students would have to provide something similar to a course outline, examples of their work and a record of their evaluations to see if a NextGenU course would be accepted as substitute for a credit course.