23andMe, Udacity Team Up to Offer Free Genetics Course

23andMe has partnered with massive open online courses (MOOC) provider Udacity to offer a college-level course on genetics.

The course, Tales from the Genome, will teach students basic genetic principles, regardless of their academic background. Together with the personal genetics service 23andMe, participants will explore the biology of the most important code: the human genome, Udacity said in a blog post.

The course will be available from September 30th, and both partners think that now is the right time to bring genetics education to the masses.

The rapid pace of technological development is making genetics more useful both clinically and personally. Understanding our own genetics gives us each an opportunity to make the most of this new age of personalized medicine, according to 23andMe.

The course will provide a basic foundation for genetics in a fun and engaging way. Instructors will talk to experts in the field as well as individuals with different traits, all in an effort to explain the sometimes complex science of genetics. Students will be grounded in the basics of DNA, the building blocks of life, 23andMe said in a blog post.

Genetics is about the stories our genomes can tell — all the biological secrets wound up and efficiently packaged into information storage units called chromosomes. Together, we will be uncovering some of those secrets in Tales from the Genome.

In the Tales from the Genome course, participants will learn about fundamental principles of inheritance, gene expression, mutation and variation, development of simple and complex biological traits, human ancestry and evolution, and the acquisition of personal genetic information.

By the end of this course, participants will be able to read and understand genetic information available from personal genetics services such as 23andMe.

As the world's leading universities are offering free online courses through MOOC providers such as Udacity, edX and ‎Coursera, the questions over whether free credit-bearing MOOCs have a role in higher education are growing in frequency and volume.

Some universities are taking MOOCs a step further. The University of Cincinnati (UC) has decided to begin teaching its first MOOC and has nudged higher education in the direction of awarding credit. A seven-week MOOC2Degree course, titled Innovation and Design Thinking, will utilize weekly lectures, assigned readings, live chats and guest speakers. Students who successfully complete the course and enroll in a master's program will receive two free credit hours, the university said in a statement.

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