VIDEO | Massive Open Online Courses Creating Massive Accessibility for Adults

The following interview was conducted with Daphne Koller, the Co-Founder of Coursera. Koller and her colleague Andrew Ng started Coursera in March 2012 and have seen an explosion in its popularity since, partnering with top universities to deliver free higher education to 1 million students worldwide. In this interview, which can be found at the bottom of the article, Koller discusses the popularity Coursera enjoys among adult learners, a theme she spoke further about in the talk she gave at TedGlobal 2012.

1. How popular is Coursera among non-traditional, adult students?

Coursera and other MOOCs have certainly emerged as popular sources of education for non-traditional and adult students. We’ve seen students from all sorts of educational backgrounds, ages and locations.

2. Why do you think open online learning has such an appeal for adult learners?

The flexibility of online learning allows our students to tackle rigorous course material while continuing to work or accommodate other responsibilities that might prevent them from pursuing a traditional degree.

3. When you started Coursera with Andrew Ng, what kind of students did you think you would be attracting?

We started Coursera with the goal of closing the achievement gap by providing free online courses available to anyone anywhere in the world. Along with the working adults and traditional students in the U.S., we hope to reach eager students internationally, and we will continue to expand the number of subjects and languages our courses are offered in.

4. Given their success, do you think most universities will develop their own open online content to capture this audience, or partner with organizations such as yours?

While we cannot hope that all educational institutions will choose to develop free, online content, we do believe that innovations in online learning methods and technology will prove MOOCs to be an invaluable component of both a traditional and non-traditional education.

The reality is that developing engaging online platforms is difficult and takes a lot of resources. In creating Coursera, we hope that organizations will choose to partner with Coursera to take advantage of the research and resources that we are devoting to developing the most effective online learning platform.

Video originally posted by TedTalks.

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Readers Comments

Vera Matthews 2012/08/10 at 10:15 am

This is an amazing platform to allow students not only across the world, but disadvantaged students right here at home, to get access to top-quality education. The only question I have is how these students can show that they have completed this top-quality education?

After all, to be crass, without documentation to support your learning, how can a potential employer ever know that you have the capacity to do the work?

Chuck Schwartz 2012/08/16 at 6:49 pm

I wonder if all the recent allegations of plagiarism in Coursera courses will lead to problems in terms of the weight of Coursera Certificates of Completion?

Will plagiarism-detection software become more prevalent for these courses? And, if so, surely the prices would need to increase to accommodate it.

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