Coursera to Offer Online Interactive Classes with University Partners

  • Coursera, a new start-up from Stanford computer scientists Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, has attracted some $16 million in venture capital and will offer online interactive courses in the humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and engineering.
  • Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley have already been offering courses. They will be joined in the venture by the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.
  • Stanford offered an online course in artificial intelligence last fall, which attracted more than 160,000 students from 190 countries. Some 22,000 students completed the course and received “certificates of completion,” but not Stanford credits.
  • Coursera has not yet determined their business model, but one idea is to offer premium services that students can purchase.
  • Other start-ups including Udacity, Minerva and Udemy are also targeting free online education.
  • Coursera breaks lectures into 10-minute segments and has a quick quiz for each segment. Essays are graded by fellow students. And support also comes from the student community. Interestingly, an early test showed that questions were answered in 22 minutes. One problem is there is no way to address possible cheating.
  • Still, the potential for teachers to reach hundreds of thousands of students has attracted great interest from universities, instructors and venture capitalists.

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