Learning for the sake of learning sounds nice but doesn’t pay
By Ainsley O’Connell
Back in 2012, we welcomed the dawn of the massive open online course (MOOC) and its promise to democratize learning with open arms.
Stories like that of Christos Porios, a 16-year-old living in Alexandroupoli, Greece, who discovered a Stanford computer science class on online platform Coursera and soon mastered machine learning, captured our collective imagination. The learning experience was new, but the brand-name institutions providing the content were familiar, with universities like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford leading the way.
Fast-forward to 2015, and the dynamics shaping online learning have changed dramatically. The typical student is not a teenage genius, but a mid-career working professional. And the brand names lending credibility are no longer vaunted educational institutions, but rather private companies on the lookout for new talent.
Many private companies are themselves taking the lead in designing and managing online courses—Microsoft, for example, is the top certificate-issuer on LinkedIn. But open learning platforms like Coursera also see an opportunity, and have been vying to carve out a share of this growing market for online continuing education. Today, Coursera announced that it is raising an additional $60 million in venture capital, on top of the $85 million it raised previously. The influx of cash will support “job-relevant learning opportunities,” according to the news release.
“The most novel thing we’ve done lately is integrating with companies,” CEO Rick Levin tells Fast Company. In high-demand fields like business, data science, and technology, university professors now create Coursera’s content with input from private sponsors. “It’s less bypassing [universities] than augmenting,” he says, noting that “the job skills are evolving so quickly.”
[ Full article available at Fast Company: http://www.fastcompany.com/3050288/fast-feed/coursera-pivots-to-focus-on-job-training ]