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UC Irvine Nationally Recognized for Online Courses

California public school powerhouse UC Irvine was nationally honored last week, for its strength and ingenuity...in its online courses?! That's right, the school is being lauded for its free online course program, as well as its progressive stance as the first UC system school to incorporate OpenCourseWare into its repertoire.

About 250 universities worldwide currently offer courses through this program. In the fall of 2006, UCI became the first university in the UC system to join the OCW Consortium. UC Berkeley later followed in 2007.

Since 2006, the site has attracted over 250,000 visitors, with over 35 percent of them being international. There are no registration requirements; all that is required is an Internet connection.

"UCI OpenCourseWare is a large-scale, Web-based resource that houses educational assets," said Gary W. Matkin, dean of Continuing Education at UCI. "[UCI]'s membership in the consortium is consistent with its public and land-grant missions and its desire to play a significant role in contributing to the social welfare of the state, the nation and the world."

Currently, UCI offers twenty online courses ranging broadly in subject matter -- the most popular, called "Fundamentals of Financial Planning," is a basic financial strategies program. With this national recognition, will we see this trend broaden as more public schools follow suit and bring their courses to the online population? Only time will tell, but, given the popularity such a gesture has brought, it certainly seems like the smart thing to do.

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