Coursera Announces Partnerships with 29 Universities From 13 Countries

February 22, 2013

Compiled by Ryan Garner
February 22, 2013

Coursera, an online education provider based in Mountain View, Calif., has announced that 29 new universities have partnered with the company to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs). Previously, 33 universities were on board with Coursera, and the new partnerships nearly double the company’s reach.

The new universities represent 13 countries, expanding Coursera’s international presence. They include U.S.-based institutions Northwestern University, Penn State and Rutgers, in addition to foreign-based universities such as IE Business School in Spain, National Taiwan University and the University of Tokyo.

"We're already the largest MOOC platform in the world by almost any metric you could choose," said CEO and co-founder Andrew Ng. "I see this as a sign that universities all around the world are signing on to this mission of offering the best education to everyone, for free."

Coursera’s MOOCs don’t allow for the intimacy of small classroom instruction. However, they rely on peer-to-peer discussion and aim to create learning communities where participants help one another to understand course material and evaluate each other’s work. Occasionally a course professor will answer questions or provide clarification on course topics.

College faculty member teach the free courses, although few postsecondary institutions award credit to students who complete them. The American Council on Education recently recommended that schools consider granting credit for certain Coursera classes, and is weighing a similar decision for a handful of classes taught by rival Udacity.

"What's new is that these courses often have 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 students, these ridiculous numbers -- a year ago, you wouldn't have dreamed that would take place," said Cole Camplese, director of education technology services at Penn State. "A decade ago, it was hard to get faculty to rally around online delivery of material, but that has tipped. Now, faculty has embraced technology, by and large, and they've come out in droves to embrace this."

Coursera launched less than a year ago, and has built up an audience of nearly 2.8 million registered users. The for-profit company is focused on building partnerships with universities, allowing for convenient access to higher education, although a business model and monetization efforts have not been established at this point.

“It's hard to avoid the MOOCs,” said Jeannene Przyblyski, provost at the California Institute of the Arts, one of Coursera’s new partner universities. “It is sort of a great experiment in education, and as an art school, we are dedicated to experimentation. That's more interesting to us than putting classes online, which isn't rocket science on some level.”


Sources:

“Online-Education Provider Coursera Signs 29 More Schools,” online.wsj.com, February 21, 2013, Melissa Korn

“Coursera Adds 29 University Partners From 13 Countries,” informationweek.com, February 21, 2013, David F. Carr

“Online university giant gets bigger,” bbc.co.uk, February 21, 2013, Sean Coughlan