|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (April 2014)|
|Headquarters||Mountain View, California|
|Founder(s)||Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller|
|Key people||Rick Levin (CEO)|
|Employees||120+ (August 2014)|
|Alexa rank||803 (March 2015[update])|
|Users||11.8 million (March 2015)|
|Available in||English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hebrew, German, Italian|
Coursera // is a for-profit educational technology company 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 positions itself as learning without limits.
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" and some give the option to pay a fee to join the "Signature Track." Students on the Signature Track receive verified certificates, appropriate for employment purposes. These students authenticate their course submissions by sending webcam photos and having their typing pattern analyzed.
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.
Coursera courses approximate from four to ten weeks long, with one to two hours of video lectures a week. These courses provide quizzes, weekly exercises, peer-graded assignments, and sometimes a final project or exam. Courses are also provided on-demand in which the user can take his/her time in completing the course with all of the material available at once, and as of May 2015, 104 courses are on-demand.
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.
- Founded in 2012 by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University.
- Penn hosts the Inaugural Coursera Partners' Conference on April 5 and 6, 2013.
- As of October 2014, Coursera had reached 839 courses and 10 million users.
- As of May, 2015, Coursera had more than 1000 courses from 119 institutions and 13 million users from 190 countries.
Coursera started in 2012 working with Stanford University, Princeton University, 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 United States Department of State 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 language course. It has tie-ups with big universities like University of Sao Paulo (USP) and State University of Campinas (UNICAMP).
Coursera offers certificates from participating colleges that students can use to demonstrate completion of a series of classes.
Students enroll in a pre-determined series of courses, pay a tuition fee, and complete a capstone project. Certificate options include topics such as “Data Science” from Johns Hopkins University, “Modern Musician” from Berklee, "Digital Marketing" from University of Illinois, "Business Foundations" from University of Pennsylvania, “Fundamentals of Computing” from Rice University, and "Entrepreneurship: Launching an Innovative Business" from University of Maryland, College Park.
Besides being printable, these certificates can be digitally linked to certain sites such as LinkedIn to show in the profile page of a Coursera course participant.
Coursera runs the nginx web server on the Linux operating system on the Amazon Web Services platform with the primary stack in Scala on the Play framework. Data is stored in Amazon S3, and site search is handled by CloudSearch that indexes over 4.3 million documents on the site. Each month Coursera's database servers (running on RDS) answer 10 billion SQL queries, and Coursera serves around 500 TB of traffic per month. Coursera uses OAuth2 protocol for user authentication and LTI 1.1 protocol for interaction with courses.
In January 2014, Coursera blocked their courses for users in Cuba, Iran and Sudan as a result of US sanctions to those countries. The company has made progress in restoring access to non-STEM courses in these countries.
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