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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What MOOCs Teach Us

Photo: Daphne Koller
"Online education offers one effective way to close the skills gap." according to  Daphne Koller, cofounder and president of Coursera.

Three years ago, several of us at Stanford launched the first massive open online courses, or MOOCs. We wanted to make the teaching of the world’s great universities accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. The company we founded, Coursera, recently passed a milestone: 10 million enrolled learners. That makes it a good time to reflect on what we’ve learned.

One early prediction about MOOCs was that they would undermine or even replace the traditional college education—an idea we at Coursera never endorsed (see “What Are MOOCs Good For?”).

And it hasn’t happened—only 15 percent of our current learners are college age. The other 85 percent fall largely into two categories. The first are adults looking to expand their horizons. The second—nearly half of our learners—are working adults looking to build critical job skills for a better career. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The world around us is changing rapidly, and many of the skills you need today—data science, mobile apps, digital marketing—didn’t even exist a decade ago.

How do we create an educational experience suited to this very different population? First, we can share our knowledge about learner interests with our university partners, who can experiment with new courses, new subject areas, and hands-on projects that align with problem-­solving in real-world settings.

Source: MIT Technology Review (blog)

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