Coursera, a revolutionary online learning center, continues to grow – and it’s no wonder why. Coursera offers top quality online college classes free of charge. Students do not receive college credits, but receive a certificate upon completion of a course. A “verified” certificate is available for a fee, but all courses can be taken for free. There are no books to buy and no monthly subscriptions.
The program has attracted large numbers of students who want to learn but don’t necessarily need college credits. Approaching three years in existence, Coursera offers more than 800 courses and, incredibly, more than 10 million students around the world have taken Coursera classes. In 2013, certain classes were approved for college credits, which will incur a small fee for a proctored, online exam, via webcam.
Coursera online courses are six to ten weeks in length with one to two hours of video lectures a week. The courses include quizzes, weekly exercises, and sometimes a final project or exam. Progress is monitored and all course activities must be completed satisfactorily and on-time. A message board for each class is available for students to converse and discuss class topics.
Participating universities pay to participate in Coursera, in exchange for revenue from verified certificate fees, tutoring service fees, and the opportunity to participate in a paradigm-shifting educational model. Some of the world’s top universities offer classes on Coursera, although the potential for economic gain is speculative and developing.
Four top-flight universities launched with Coursera in 2012: Stanford, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since then, 104 more universities have become Coursera partners.
Online classes are a good way to learn. The U.S. Department of Education recently published a report stating, “classes with online learning (whether taught completely online or blended) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction.”
Coursera offers classes in a wide variety of fields and educational levels. Many upper-level courses require prerequisite courses or training. See coursera.com for a list of classes and details.