Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Their mission is to provide “universal access to the world’s best education,” for lifelong learning or to fill educational gaps. Richard C. Levin, past president of Yale and the new chief executive of Coursera, says “we are very mindful that we don’t want to be a university. We want to be a facilitator.”
With 8.2 million registered users, Coursera is the most widely used massive open online course (MOOC) platform. Choose from hundreds of courses created by the world’s top educational institutions. Watch short video lectures, take interactive quizzes, complete peer graded assignments, and connect with fellow learners and instructors, all on your own schedule.
Coursera boasts over 1,000 free online courses from 120 colleges, universities, and other institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History. The range of topics is vast, from Columbia University’s “Economics of Money and Banking,” to “Animal Behavior” from the University of Melbourne in Australia. Some schools on Coursera are even starting to offer sequences of specialization, including a cybersecurity package from U-Md.
Coursera draws revenue from some users who pay a small fee, typically less than $100 per course, to obtain a verified certificate for successfully completing a class. While useful for homeschooling, personal study or continuing education, keep in mind that what is offered doesn’t necessarily add up to a coherent package of courses that would correspond to a major for an undergraduate in college.