Published: 31st July 2017
Here is a chance for you to get classes from the best teachers around
Coursera is a digital learning platform based in the US which can provide you with classes from Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners and the best teachers around the globe
Coursera is probably one of the few US-based companies to have a faster customer growth in India than in the US itself. The digital learning platform was started five years ago by two Stanford professors, who decided to reach out to more students instead of limiting themselves to 400-500 of them. When they put their lectures online, more than 100,000 students logged in, which prompted them to start this new platform. Coursera today has 26 million enrollments.
Raghav Gupta, India Country Director, Coursera who sat down with Edex to discuss the company's growth said that in India alone two million learners have signed up in the last few years and it is the second largest market in the world, adding 60,000 learners every month. "
We have over 2,000 courses, over 180 specialisation and four full-fledged degree courses. We work with businesses like TATA Communications, AXIS Bank, Infosys and others as well," Gupta said and added that most of their learners fall in the 26-39 age bracket and are usually working professionals.
Raghav Gupta, India Country Director, Coursera
The old model of one-time acquisition of skills and knowledge has now completely changed. The shelf life of skills is much shorter so there is a need to keep pace with technology, stated Gupta.
There are two trends currently — one is continuous learning and the other is the onus moving from company-led learning to self-learning. He also added that a number of learners on the platform either pursue courses of personal interest or business interest, either technology or data science learning skills.
"We are not about replacing college. College is very important, but we are looking to serve those who have finished college and wish to go back to school. They either might not have the money to do so or may have family commitments, so we make it easier for them to pursue their studies. Lifelong learning is the only way for people to stay competitive in the world," chipped in Arunav Sinha, Head, Global Communication. A course is anywhere between 8-15 hours and over four to six weeks, a specialisation could include four to six courses and there are various levels which could last for over six months.
We have a learner outcome survey where we ask our users if the course benefitted them and we have our highest level of feedback from India. From our statistics, 84 per cent said they had benefitted from the course
Raghav Gupta, India Country Director, Coursera
Degrees are longer, of course, but it costs much less than an actual degree that is pursued in a university which makes it more accessible to common working professionals, explained Gupta.
With technology taking over many of the jobs in India and the world, IT companies are investing in educating their employees rather than firing them. "Since data is becoming the new language, a lot of companies in India are training and educating their employees in data-related course from Coursera. There was a rise in registrations for Machine Learning and Data Science, especially because of this re-skilling and upskilling by many of the Indian IT companies.
Many IT employees who are middle managers are also getting asked to add on skills sets to their business management, so they too choose to do such courses," Gupta stated.
Since it has mostly English content, Coursera is predominantly accessed by those in the metro cities and a few other cities where there is internet access. "Almost 90 per cent of the content is also fully available on mobiles, so even if there is low internet bandwidth, the experience is not compromised," assured Sinha.
The content includes pre-recorded lecture videos with small assessments after the video. "We have Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, the world's best economists and linguistic experts, all coming to teach on the platform. So the quality is the absolute best," he added. While the content is in English now, the Coursera director hopes to branch out into other languages if there are tie-ups with Indian universities.
Stanford’s Health across Gender Spectrum course offers an intimate, story-based introduction to the experiences of six transgender children and their families. Through illustrated stories and short videos, learners will gain a better understanding of gender identity and the gender spectrum
When asked whether GST had any impact on the company, Gupta said that while there has been no impact at all, they have had many enquiries regarding courses related to GST. "Ironically, some of our taxation courses are the most sought after," Sinha said. Some of the top courses pursued on Coursera by Indians are Stanford University's Machine Learning, Michigan University's Programming for Everybody, Princeton University's Mathematical Thinking, University of California's Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects, and Johns Hopkins' The data scientist's toolbox.
The company's latest addition to their services is providing industry content, “So we now have tie ups with companies like Google, so if someone wants to learn about Google clouds, they can now sign up with us to learn. In the last six months we've had a sizeable number of people registering for such courses too,” Gupta added.
Some of the top universities tied-up with Coursera
Georgia Institute of Technology
National University of Singapore
Pennsylvania State University
University of California, San Diego
University of Amsterdam