’Round about the time Europe was switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and Newfoundland became the first English colony in North America setting the stage for the British Empire, the University of Edinburgh opened its doors in Scotland. Edinburgh is more likely to land in a sentence with “hallowed halls” than with “massive open online courses (MOOCs)” or “eLearning,” but hang onto your hat because the University of Edinburgh has gone modern and joined the land of eLearning.

Founded in 1583 (over 400 years ago for the math challenged), the University of Edinburgh is an ancient university—one of four in Scotland—a world-renowned center of higher education with an impeccable reputation. The university offers 300 degree programs offered in 21 schools and three colleges with an enrollment of 27,000+ students, 6000 of which are international students representing more than 130 countries.

The Road From Edinburgh to Coursera

As a major research center with an international outreach, it was a matter of when, not if, Edinburgh joined the digital revolution in education. In the age of ubiquitous technology and the move to educate the masses through digital learning, Coursera was a natural next step in Edinburgh’s journey. If Edinburgh is the pinnacle of learning, Coursera is the pinnacle of MOOCs, an educational platform that collaborates with top universities across the globe to make courses available to the public free of charge. It’s a perfect interim landing spot on the way to developing a corporate library of MOOCs for career development.

One Small Step for Edinburgh.. 

…one giant leap for MOOC credibility. Today, the University of Edinburgh offers courses ranging from “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges” to “Artificial Intelligence Planning” and everything in between including several veterinary, philosophy and clinical psychology courses. The most important course that portends the future of eLearning is their course “eLearning and Digital Cultures,” specifically designed for educators, learning technologists and anyone with an interest in digital learning. The course synopsis states, “The course is about how digital cultures intersect with learning cultures online, and how our ideas about online education are shaped through ‘narratives,’ or big stories, about the relationship between people and technology.”

A Sneak Peek Into the Future

With the University of Edinburgh acknowledging the importance of eLearning, we can disavow ourselves of any thoughts we might have had of the digital platform as a fad or some transient stop en route to the next educational fad. eLearning is here to stay and it’s spreading its wings into social learning. Get aboard or get left behind.