How Coursera Is Revolutionizing the Way People Earn Degrees

The online learning giant now offers 12 Bachelor and Master degrees that can be taken 100 percent online.

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(Sharaf Maksumov /

Revolutionizing the way people learn was not on the radar of Coursera's founders, Stanford's computer Science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, when they began offering online tech courses in 2012.

The first Coursera offerings were three Stanford University computer science online courses for no fees and no credits. The courses were interactive with short video lectures and discussion forums. Multiple choice quizzes and homework assignments were graded by other students making it a real learning community. It is no wonder that the courses were a hit.

Koller told Forbes, “With no marketing, each of those courses had more than 100,000 learners. It was a wake-up call about the demand for this type of education around the world.”

All of Coursera's classes are high quality, taught by top instructors from renowned universities, and affordable. Certificates from Coursera are highly valued by employers and potential employers.

Coursera's corporate customers include Adobe, Goldman Sachs, India's Axis Bank, and the online school offers 12 online degree programs from partners that include Johns Hopkins, Yale, University of Michigan, and Stanford. Coursera also serves as a platform for companies like IBM and Google to offer courses to train their developers, customer service, and administrators. The courses run 3-6 weeks, and graduates receive highly-valued certificates.

Already successful, Courseva's status was greatly boosted by the addition of Jeff Maggioncalda as CEO in 2017. According to Forbes, "He has since boosted the company’s status as the world’s biggest, most successful MOOC provider, with 150 international university partners, 36 million registered learners, $210 million in investment capital, an $800 million valuation."

Maggioncalda believes that Coursera's future, and the future of learning, lays in online degree programs. While online courses will never replace brick and mortar schools, they are a compelling choice for nontraditional students who are older and working full time. He is putting considerable resources into growing full degree online courses.

“I think almost every degree will move online,” Maggioncalda told Forbes. “It is so efficient, so compelling; it will be highly personalized and powered by data. We’re going to have virtual and simulated learning experiences that will transport students into totally different learning environments that will give them access to things they can only get in the virtual world.”

With our world and knowledge becoming more and more globalized and an ever-growing number of people living as digital nomads, betting on online education seems to be paying off.

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