“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela
I am writing about Coursera just in case there is anyone out there, or at least anyone out there who reads JAA, who hasn’t yet heard of it, because Coursera is simply one of the best things on the internet that I have come across in some time. And it is free. Like all good things I heard about it by word of mouth when my friend C talked about taking Cousera classes at a recent book club meeting.
Coursera provides MOCCs to anyone anywhere in the world. No, me neither, I hadn’t a clue so I had to check on the interweb to discover that a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. Coursera describe succinctly what they to on their website thus: ‘Coursera is an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Our technology enables our partners to teach millions of students rather than hundreds.’
Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, computer science professors at Stanford University, founded the platform in 2011 and launched it in 2012. A company called Coursera Inc runs the platform, venture capitalists fund the company so that means it will eventually have to turn in a profit. The good news is that it seems Coursera Inc don’t plan to raise revenue by charging students for participating in the courses. Andrew Ng has said: ‘We’re a for-profit, but if I had to choose between making money and changing millions of lives, I’d much rather change millions of lives.” Income streams will come from a variety of sources including the issuing of certificates (charged for, but an optional extra) to course participants who achieve over a certain mark,and matching up promising students with employers in a sort of recruitment agency role. There is an interesting New York Times’s article about all of this here
I have done one Coursera Course called ‘Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade’ which was about the nuts and bolts of the English language. I wasn’t a good student as I tuned out in the first two weeks; week one was devoted to the online learning process and week two which covered parts of speech such as: nouns, verbs, adverbs etc was quite basic. However, I now wish I had focused more because when the course started to delve into things such as adverbial and subordinate conjunctions, concepts which if I was ever familiar with them I have long since forgotten, I wasn’t in a fast as cheetah learning mode. Still and all, I learned a lot and if the course comes up again I would definitely consider repeating it.
I signed up for another Coursera course called ‘Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’ taught by the University of California which starts next Monday. It’s a subject which interest me vastly so I intend to be a much more dedicated student this time round.
Note: the web address for Coursera is www.coursera.org