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Coursera Creates a Successful Global Higher Education Community

Back in June, we introduced you to Coursera.org. The free online educational site seems unstoppable as it takes the world of learning by storm with its “Education for Everyone” motto. Third-generation Ph.D. and Coursera co-founder, Daphne Koller, recently gave a thought-provoking TED talk titled, “What We’re Learning from Online Education.” TED, a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” posts inspiring talks given by great thinkers and entrepreneurs, starting a global conversation, available to the world for free.

For many people around the world, higher education can seem out of reach. Koller notes that, while many people talk about the rising cost of healthcare, they may not realize that the price of higher education has been increasing at almost twice the rate, or the price of higher education has increased 559% since 1985. “Only a little over half of recent college graduates in the United States who get a higher education are actually working in jobs that require that education. This, of course, is not true for the students who graduate from the top institutions, but for many others, they do not get the value for their time and their effort,” she says.

Her solution to this fallacy in higher education is Coursera, which creates global access to select courses from the best instructors from the best colleges -- for free. Coursera can help people gain the skills to create a better life for themselves, their families, and their community.

This wave of innovation seems to click with global learners. Take a look at the numbers since Coursera launched the website in February:

  • 640,000 students registered
  • 190 countries represented
  • 1.5 million enrolled
  • 6 million quizzes submitted
  • 14 million videos viewed

What makes Coursera’s online classes different from the countless online lectures that are already out there? For one, classes start on a specific day. Like in traditional, face-to-face university courses, students watch weekly videos, complete real homework assignments, take tests and earn real grades. There is less emphasis on lecturing, and more on creating interactions that reinforce learning and spark creativity. Also, peer interaction is limitless. Coursera makes it possible to engage with tens of thousands of students and grade their performances. Upon completion of their courses, students walk away with a certificate that can be shown to prospective employers or presented to an education institution to be considered for an actual credit. Cool, right?

For more inspiration, watch Koller’s complete TED talk here or check out the complete line-up of more than 900 past TED talks here.

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