Coursera /kɔrsˈɛrə/ is a for-profit educational technology company founded by computer science professors Andrew Ngand Daphne Koller from Stanford University that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs). Coursera works with universities to make some of their courses available online, and offers courses in physics, engineering, humanities,medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, and other subjects. Coursera has an official mobile app for iOS and Android. As of October 2014, Coursera has 10 million users in 839 courses from 114 institutions.
The contract between Coursera and participating universities contains a “brainstorming” list of ways to generate revenue, including verified certification fees (started in 2012 as Signature Track), introducing students to potential employers and recruiters (with student consent), tutoring, sponsorships and tuition fees. In September 2013 it announced it had earned $1 million in revenue through verified certificates that authenticate successful course completion. As of December 2013 the company had raised $85 million in venture capital. John Doerr suggested that people will pay for “valuable, premium services”. Any revenue stream will be divided, with schools receiving a small percentage of revenue and 20% of gross profits. In January 2013, Coursera announced that the American Council on Education had approved five courses for college credit. As the journalist Steve Kolowich noted “whether colleges take the council’s advice, however, is an open question.” The courses that were recommended to degree-granting institutions for college credit are:
- Algebra from the University of California, Irvine
- Pre-Calculus, from the University of California, Irvine
- Introduction to Genetics and Evolution from Duke University
- Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach from Duke University
- Calculus: Single Variable from the University of Pennsylvania
Coursera will offer proctored exams at the end of these courses through ProctorU, an online proctoring service that connects proctors and students via webcam. The service will cost $60–$90.Coursera reduces the cost of courses it offers by using instant computer-based marking where appropriate, making students grade their peers’ homework in some cases where computer-based marking cannot be used, such as for poetry composition exercises and employing statistical methods to validate the assessment.
All courses offered by Coursera are “accessible for free”. The website provides courses in a variety of areas, including Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, and Computer Science. Each course includes short video lectures on different topics and assignments to be submitted, usually on a weekly basis. In most humanities and social science courses, and other assignments where an objective standard may not be possible, a peer review system is used.Coursera courses approximate from six to ten weeks long, with one to two hours of video lectures a week. These courses provide quizzes, weekly exercises, and sometimes a final project or exam. Web forums are provided for courses, and some students also arrange face to face study meet-ups using meetup.com, or online meetups. However, the Coursera Honor Code prohibits copying answers, therefore the discussion should not exchange answers but should practice a healthy debate.
Penn hosts the Inaugural Coursera Partners’ Conference on April 5th and 6th, 2013.
Coursera reaches 839 courses in October 2014.
Coursera reaches 10 million users in October 2014.
Anyone with access to the Internet has the ability to receive a self-paced higher education. Even in local institutions, which lack elite professors, students can be guided and motivated by resources provided by Coursera.
Coursera started in 2012 working with Stanford University, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania. 12 partners were added in July 2012 followed by 17 more in September 2012. In February 2013, the company announced another 29 partner universities. The current total number of partners is 108.In late October 2013, Coursera teamed up with the US State Department to create learning hubs all over the world. In January 2014, the State Department told Coursera to block access to its courses from Iran, Sudan and Cuba.On June 3, 2014 Coursera says it has been “working closely with governing authorities to navigate licences and permissions” and, as a result, “Iranian learners will now regain access to the majority of Coursera’s courses”.In May 2014, Antioch University announced that it was the first US institution to offer college credit for Coursera courses. Antioch said it hoped the partnership would allow them to reduce student costs to complete a degree.On September 17, 2014, Coursera was launched in Brazil introducing Portuguese course. It has tie-ups with big universities like University of Sao Paulo (USP) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP).