is a for-profit company providing college-level online courses to anyone who has access to internet connection and a passion to learn. It’s a joint venture of Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, two computer science professors of Stanford university. The precursor to starting of Coursera can be linked to the the Machine Learning online course, one of the early Stanford’s xMOOCs in 2011 led by both Ng and Koller, attracting more than 100,000 students across the globe. From its humble beginning, it has grown into a thriving online course provider offering 774 courses in multiple languages in wide variety of subjects patterning with 114 institutions in four continents to more than 9 million students from every country in the the world (as of October, 2014).
Its mission is simple and yet grand: To offer quality education freely to everyone in the world. Its mission statement proudly declares:
“Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”
Its focused online higher education mission is rooted in four strong pillars of: (i) effectiveness of online learning, (ii) mastery of learning which includes instant feedback on how a student performs before he or she moves to an advances topic in a course, (iii) peer assessments enabling students to evaluate and to provide feedback on each other’s work, and (iv) blended learning by which partner institutions can use its online platform for on-campus students.
Coursera offers most of its courses for free except those ones which are marked for verified certificates and specialization. To obtain a verified certificate, there is a compulsory ‘Signature Track’ enrollment which verifies students’ identity and course completion for a nominal fee of $60 to $90. Though, there is a wide variety of courses offered, it is strong in social sciences, humanities, health and society, education, and biology and life sciences., offering more than 100 courses in each of these subjects. However, like any other typical online course, it combines lecture videos, interactive quizzes, assignments and peer graded assessments.
Image source: Coursera