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Coursera

The best education available to everyone

Sector: Futuremedia
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Coursera, and other MOOCs, are on the verge of fundamentally disrupting education, knowledge and expertise, across the world. By moving the best university courses online, with a business model that allows universal access, they can be transformational on society, and the opportunities for everyone.

courseraAnyone, anywhere can now study paleobiology with the help of the University of Alberto which has made its “Dino 101″ course available free online, and uses interactive techniques developed for the gaming industry to bring the science of the dinosaurs to life. It is just one of thousands of free study modules available through Coursera which has signed up over 100 of the world’s best universities since its launch in 2012. Within a year it had 4.8 million students in 195 countries, giving anyone – old as well as young – the opportunity to study almost anything, free and from their home.

Coursera, founded by two computer science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, at Stanford University is leading the MOOC revolution in education. “Massive open online courses” are transformed who and how the world learns. Inspired by the Khan Academy, Ng started posting his course material on YouTube in 2008. Before long, each video had generated at least 100,000 views compared to his Stanford class, by contrast, had just 400 students a year, paying up to $200k for their degrees. To reach a comparable audience, he would have had to teach at Stanford for 250 years.

The business model is still evolving. Whilst it is not easy to replicate some aspects of a university experience, Coursera with partners as diverse as Duke and Tokyo, and rivals like edX supported by Harvard and MIT, can transform the lives of billions of people looking to start, advance or change careers. Coursera, as a non-profit, plans to charge $100 for certificates, shared with university partners, but free to those who cannot afford it. Many courses count towards degrees. More significant revenues could involve licensing content to community colleges, and recruitment fees to potential employers.

Pivot points for Coursera in changing the game of education were

  • Think: Imagining a future of lifelong learning available to everyone
  • Disrupt: Bringing together the best academic content, free to access
  • Design: Redesigning course material for self learning, eg using gaming
  • Mobilise: Engaging new audiences, communities schools, and employers

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