Coursera.org allows users to take college classes for free. Top professors at top universities like Stanford, Princeton, University of California, and University of Michigan arrange to teach the classes and offer them periodically. Some classes offer letters of completion, though none of them offer accredited college credits. Users can ask questions, test their understanding, and work at their own pace. Interactive exercises offer a mastery-based learning style. It allows users to expand their education and serves as a sort of test lab for the future of education, offering a test case for new ways to educate the future.
Coursera.org was founded in 2011. Two Stanford professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, began the venture. It has gathered tens of thousands of students worldwide, as well as enough professors to offer a sizable catalog of courses. Coursera.org has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wired Academic, Venture Beat, The Dow Jones News Wire, TechCrunch, and The New York Times.
There are other online schools, and other free online schools. However, very few of them can boast top professors from top, even Ivy League, universities. Coursera has also been developed by experienced educators, which means that users can feel confident about their ability to learn the material and interact with the course. The course is designed to keep users engaged rather than merely offering videos or text based material.
The app looks pretty and feels exciting. Big, pretty graphics entice students to enroll. There are full course descriptions and short video introductions. During the video introductions, professors explain their courses. Each course description also explains what prerequisite knowledge the student may need to have before tackling the course. Users can sign up to receive notification of new course offerings in their favorite categories, a useful feature if a visitor does not see anything he or she wants to take right away.
Registration is very easy. Users provide a name, an e-mail address, and a password. Once they complete this task they are in the system and may begin registering for courses. Users can browse courses without registering.
The application is free to use. There are no ads. The only cost to the user will be in time and effort, in keeping with Coursera’s mission.
Almost anybody could benefit from using Coursera.org. Users who want to update their skills and become more employable, or advance their careers, will certainly benefit: employers are likely to feel a letter of completion gets the job done as well as college credit, and will appreciate an employee’s ability to update their education cheaply and on their own time. Users who really enjoy learning and wish to keep expanding their horizons will also enjoy Coursera. There are many business courses, so entrepreneurs who need to learn business skills will certainly appreciate what Coursera has to offer. Those who wish to update or expand their understanding for other reasons will find plenty to entertain them as well. Users under the age of 13 are not allowed, and must have parental consent unless they are 18 or older.