global mooc

Coursera Evolves with New Features, Degree Programs (Podcast)

Since their start in 2011, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider Coursera has become a top destination for people looking to advance their career or even just pursue a passion, amassing 10 million users in 890 courses from 117 institutions in just a few years.

Founded by Stanford University professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng in 2011, Coursera’s mission is to provide universal access to the world’s best education. The software allows students to learn on their own schedule and choose courses that fit their individual needs.

In 2012, when Coursera was just getting its start, Ng found that Coursera offered certain advantages for the educators. “2,000 of the 20,0000 or so students in Ng’s online class had the exact same wrong solution on one problem set,” said Ng, according to All Things D. With this feedback available to the educator, they can immediately recognize the problem and work to fix it.

According to Coursera’s Chief Operations Officer, Lila Ibrahim, a survey of over 55,000 learners was conducted 6 months after course completion last year. “It was interesting because about half of the learners were coming to Coursera to advance their career, and the other half were some sort of enrichment learning,” said Ibrahim.

From the research, Coursera found that over 85 percent of learners reported benefiting from the program. Of that 85 percent, a third reported receiving a promotion at work, getting a pay raise, or starting a new company of their own. They associated those advances with the courses they took.

Even with the great feedback they receive, Coursera still has to work to set themselves apart from similar services. Ibrahim highlighted some of the main differences between Coursera and other MOOC providers with the largest being their global perspective. After all, 75 percent of Coursera’s learners are outside of North America.

Keeping up with their efforts to offer a large breadth of content, Coursera recently announced a new technology platform they have been developing. On the coursera blog, the company said the new platform allows courses to be run more frequently, expand available options, and provide greater flexibility in completing courses.

Coursera’s new platform includes the majority of courses offered on the previous platform, just with an updated format. Courses not transferring to the new platform include ones that are out-of-date, specifically medicine and technology courses that do not reflect recent research.

The new platform allows Coursera to run courses much more frequently. Compared to last year’s fewer than 300 courses open for enrollment, Coursera will now have over 1,200 courses and offer up to four sessions of those courses each month. This is a drastic change from the old platform, where some courses were offered just once a year.

Ibrahim spoke about additional updates that Coursera will be rolling out. “The next step in this trajectory is really around online degrees so we’ve made two announcements with University of Illinois. The first is an IMBA. The second was a master’s in computer science with a focus in data science,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim mentioned that although they are starting with the University of Illinois, they’ve garnered tremendous response from other university partners and expect to see more degree programs happening.

Listen to the full interview with Lila Ibrahim:

Hannah Flynn

Hannah Flynn

Hannah is a Boston-based writer who hails from Ohio. She has recently become interested in photography and loves taking portraits. You can normally find her curating her Instagram feed and eating all things carbs.