UT, TBR Partner with Coursera to Pilot Technology for Courses

The University of Tennessee and Tennessee Board of Regents systems are working with Coursera, a leading provider of massive open online courses, to develop a pilot program using the company’s technology to enhance online and campus-based blended learning courses.

Coursera announced its partnerships with 10 state university systems and public university flagships across the U.S. in national media today.

The agreement with UT and TBR systems will involve an 18-month pilot program to test Coursera’s technology platform for class offerings.

Faculty at public universities in Tennessee will teach and prepare a limited number of pilot courses, available to enrolled students, using the company’s technology platform as early as this fall. Coursera Inc. was founded in 2011 by two Stanford University computer science professors and specializes in offering online courses to large audiences at little to no cost.

The Tennessee public university pilot will not include massive open online courses (MOOCs). Instead, it will test use of the Coursera course technology platform to enhance student outcomes in two courses in the UT System and two courses in TBR universities. Feedback from faculty and students will be used to determine whether more courses will be offered through the Coursera platform.

“The company’s online course technology provides an innovative format that allows for student interactions to be quickly analyzed, so course content can be adjusted to help improve learning,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan. “We’d like to see if that can help us help students become more successful.

“If the program is effective, this will be an important tool available to faculty who are already engaged in student learning and success.”

The pilot program fits within the UT System Strategic Plan, which includes studying online course and degree offerings throughout the UT System.

“It is important that we be open to testing new approaches and theories, particularly those surrounding the impact of technology on higher education, and diligent in efforts to respond to the needs of faculty as well as the needs of those we serve,” said UT System President Joe DiPietro.

Both TBR and UT have been engaged in online, distance and blended learning opportunities for years. In addition to the numerous online programs offered directly through universities across the TBR system, the Regents Online Campus Collaborative at TBR has offered a wide variety of online diploma, certificate and college and university degree programs since 2001. Through its campuses, the UT System offers more than 40 online academic programs. The Coursera pilot is expected to enhance those efforts and others already taking place at various UT and TBR institutions.

The pilot program is the result of discussions between UT and TBR officials and UT Knoxville alumnus Randy Boyd, named earlier this year as the governor’s special advisor on higher education. The effort is part of Governor Haslam’s “Drive to 55” initiative to increase the education attainment levels across the state.



The University of Tennessee, founded in 1794, is the state’s land-grant institution and is a system comprised of campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; the Health Science Center based in Memphis; and the statewide institutes of agriculture and public service. With a presence in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties, UT enrolls nearly 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students across the state and has more than 335,000 alumni across the world.


The Tennessee Board of Regents is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions. The TBR system includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 technology centers, providing programs across the state to more than 203,000 students.


Monica Greppin-Watts, Communications Director, Tennessee Board of Regents, (615) 366-4417, Monica.Greppin-Watts@tbr.edu

Elizabeth Davis, Assistant Director, University of Tennessee System, (865) 974-5179, elizabeth.davis@tennessee.edu

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.