Courses Are Developing into High-Quality Online Education
An interesting development of the digital education at Coursera over the last few years has been the increased offering of Specializations. These are series of 4-5 individual MOOCs on a specific topic, which offer the opportunity for learners to explore a topic in-depth. Specializations end with a Capstone project where the participants can demonstrate their acquired knowledge in a practical example.
In the end, participants of Specializations have a lot more to show for their efforts compared to an individual MOOC. Specializations are more like a comprehensive online education or skill training in a certain topic. (They are usually fee-based with a free trial period.)
Which Specializations are available?
You can already find these course series on different subjects, with a focus on Computer Science, Programming and IT. You will find them in our directory if you apply the filter "course series".
And there are even more comprehensive learning options.
With the digital MBA program of the University of Illinois, you will receive a complete MBA education. (The costs amount to a total of $20k USD with selective financial aid being offered as well.) All available MBA courses can be taken online.
Universities can get a customized course platform experience through "Coursera for Campus".
And with "Coursera for Business", companies can organize the professional training of their employees.
Planning to Become More Active in Other Languages
Non-native speakers of English often use the chance to learn the English terminology of their subject area through MOOCs, but there is obviously also a global demand for MOOCs in local languages.
Coursera, therefore, offers a growing number of subtitle languages for the MOOC video lectures taught in English. Translators from their "Global Translator Community" create subtitles and transcripts for the online courses. For example, according to Coursera, there are 700+ volunteer German translators who are working on translating some of the more popular courses.
In addition, ever more MOOCs are being offered in languages other than English. Quite a few courses are already available in Spanish, Chinese, and Russian.
Overall, it seems to be just a matter of time until the most important MOOCs can be taken without any English language skills. And despite the many existing translators, additional translators for further languages are invited to join.
Online Learning via TV, Supporting Refugees
There is, of course, a Coursera app for smartphones. In 2015, the MOOC platform was also the first provider of online education via Apple TV, meaning that you can now obtain expert knowledge from the comfort of your living room.
The program "Coursera for Refugees" enables refugees to participate in the financial aid program so that they too can complete courses that include verified certificates. In addition, non-profit organizations for refugees can get free support through the MOOC platform. After the first year of the refugee program, thousands of refugees have already received access to courses, and more than 30 non-profit organizations were supported.
Problem Areas of the EdTech Start-up
Just like with any other online start-up, some areas at Coursera aren’t going completely as planned. Two examples are:
1. The reduced availability of free courses: Initially, most MOOCs were completely free. Today, many courses still offer a free track ("audit"). However, if you need a certificate or if you want to participate in all tests and projects, you may need to pay for it. Course series (Specializations) are only available in a subscription model. While this may be unfortunate for learners, it is probably inevitable for a sustainable operation of the platform.
2. The service availability is viewed critically by some users:
MOOC learners sometimes complain about not being able to contact employees directly via telephone or email/chat. The reason, of course, is the high number of course participants worldwide (and only about 200 employees at Coursera). Coursera has therefore created a support forum for MOOC learners. Here, learners get support with their questions. To what extent this will be sufficient in the long run remains to be seen. An often-made request is to offer at least more direct service contacts for fee-based certificate tracks.
Questions About Data Privacy in Europe Seem to Be Solved
In 2015, some press reports suspected problems regarding data protection at Coursera for European learners (where users generally expect strict privacy policies from companies).
The trigger was a Swiss professor who brought up the topic of data protection during his MOOC on Coursera and then initiated a semi-public argument with the platform.
Upon further press inquiry, Coursera later explicitly ensured that they adhere to the EU data protection laws and never sell any participant data (as had been suspected). To date, a remarkable number of European partner universities and countless MOOC participants don’t seem to have experienced any major negative effects in this regard.
Success Stories that Hollywood Couldn’t Dream Up Any Better
Coursera (and other MOOC platforms like edX, Udacity, or iversity) love the personal success stories of their graduates. Especially if the online courses enabled the learners to improve their lives in a meaningful way.
Perhaps a European learner was able to gain the skills he needed for an undreamed of career advancement. Or an American managed to work her way out of unemployment via online courses.
Or an Indian MOOC student was able to change jobs after successfully completing a Specialization; Or a farmer from Tanzania learned about sustainable agriculture via online lessons.
The many advantages of flexible online learning are demonstrated by the daily results and feedback from grateful MOOC participants. Coursera, therefore, likes to emphasize its “social mission”.
Trajectory of Success and a Social Mission
A continuing increase in learner numbers and ever more venture capital financing shows that the biggest MOOC platform continues to pursue its trajectory of success.
The company successfully differentiates itself from the other two big U.S.-based platforms by putting more emphasis on practical career development than edX does and by having a broader mix of course subjects than Udacity.
For the Coursera team, a social mission regarding their activities seems to be a key motivational factor (besides their economic success).
As its underlying mission, the platform still has an ambitious goal:
"We envision a world where anyone, anywhere can transform their life by accessing the world’s best learning experience."
MOOC Is Your Search Portal for Online Courses
In our directory, you will find Coursera MOOCs as well as thousands of online courses and online lectures from other providers. Take a look for yourself, and discover the right course for you!
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