Coursera offers free learning access in new initiative

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    COURSERA is the world’s leading online learning platform. And for good reason. More people have logged on to its platform, picked up an actual skill and used it to upgrade employment or personal knowledge.

    Recently the company announced free versions of Coursera for Campus and upgraded features to address the critical and long-term needs of higher education worldwide. These new features allow universities to deliver academic integrity for credit-bearing online learning, improve student employability, and author private courses.

    “The pandemic has been a catalyst for universities to make online learning the core of their student experience. We’ve grown from 30 universities using Coursera for Campus to over 3,700 in just seven months, and these upgrades will help them better deliver for-credit online learning and job-relevant skills for their students,” Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO said.

    Built on the Campus Response Initiative, which was launched in March to give students and faculty free access to Coursera for Campus during these pandemic-related closures. The program has so far achieved great success, not only in terms of numbers but also in the kind of courses that was developed directly from it.

    “Many challenges in education has resulted from the pandemic, but many solutions have also evolved. The innovation this crisis had brought is something that education should learn from,” Raghav Gupta Managing Director, India and APAC, Coursera said in a one-on-one with Malaya Business Insight.

    Gupta explained the difference between the regular Coursera courses and those that are under the Coursera for Campus which are more structured and guided. The regular courses are built on the values that the brand is known for, to explore any interest or begin a new skill, take prerequisites for courses, and advance skills heading towards a certificate or simply to learn something new.

    Delivering learning in the confines of a socially-distanced world is an additional challenge to closing the skills gap. Coursera for Campus is one such initiative to resolve this concern.

    “The primary purpose of Coursera for Campus is to offer to schools and universities something we are already very good at–online and distance learning–and provide from our huge resources what schools and students need,” Gupta explained.

    Coursera for Campus is committed to supporting students and institutions in every stage of online learning:

    1. The Student plan gives every university student free access to unlimited Guided Projects for hands-on learning and one course annually.
    2. The Basic plan provides up to 20,000 free student licenses to every university. Every license includes access to unlimited Guided Projects and one course annually. Includes basic plagiarism deterrence features and access to the online help center.
    3. The Institution plan provides unlimited Guided Projects and unlimited course enrollments for each student license. It also enables universities to author, grade, and manage for-credit online learning programs with enhanced academic integrity.

    The feature upgrades deliver credit-bearing online learning with advanced academic integrity features, while faculty can now administer secure, high-stakes exams and detect plagiarism in assignments. It supports online proctoring with integrations like ProctorU and allows exams to be timed and scheduled.

    Over the next few months, Coursera will enhance exam security with third-party ID verification tools. For assignments, integrations with tools like Turnitin auto-detect plagiarism for both students and graders.

    Students can check their Similarity Score before submitting an assignment. Faculty can view all suspected and confirmed plagiarism incidents in Gradebooks. The platform also supports plagiarism deterrence by disabling URL sharing and copying of peer reviews.

    Question Banks make it easy to author rigorous, custom assessments at scale. Faculty can create assessments with any combination of auto-graded multiple choice and manually-graded essay questions. They can privately author questions and randomize them based on learning objective and difficulty level. This feature will roll out widely by the end of the year.

    Coursera’s deep understanding of learning

    As the interview progressed it became clear that Coursera’s two prong approach–that of keeping their regular programs alongside the campus focus initiatives not only close the tech skills gap in the COVID-19 limited world, but provides the needed structure for students who are in-campus before the pandemic to rediscover and utilize that structure for at least another year or so as the virus-induced changes flatten.

    It is also a revelation that students will actually need a wider range of talents coping up in the new normal. Universities for example are adjusting the way engineering is deployed. One campus, Mapua University, is already using Coursera for campus with great success.

    “We have successfully offered micro-credentials and job-relevant courses to our students, preparing them for global opportunities in high demand fields. The addition of new features on Coursera for Campus platform is a step in the right direction,” Dr Bonifacio T. Doma, EVP Academic Affairs, Mapua University said.

    A peek into Coursera’s line up shows that campuses globally are creating new learnings and re-calibrating their rubrics help their students and faculty navigate the post-coronavirus working landscape.

    Gupta also explained that the use of remote digital communications also requires skills by both the students and the faculty to be more effective. This is part of the application toolkit of Coursera for Campus. The skills that students learn in the distanced classroom will remain important as organizations also head towards a remote working environment. Eventually, this arrangement may become the norm.

    Gupta outline some skills that can be focused on as a result of the pandemic such as programming, data science and cybersecurity.

    With Coursera for Campus, universities in the Philippines served more than 20,000 students who have enrolled in over 157,000 courses. Higher education institutions have used it to enable continuous learning, offer supplemental content to their degree programs, and prepare students for jobs and internships. Among them are leading institutions like Mapua University, University of San Agustin and University of Santo Tomas.

    “The pandemic has underlined the limitations of the traditional education model. The future of education is blended, stackable, and accessible. Our commitment to providing flexible learning and scaling our digital capability started a few years ago, and the Coursera partnership has been a key contributor to our transformation journey,” Mapua’s Doma said.

    Coursera for Campus is ready to meet the enduring needs of higher education institutions worldwide. For more information about each offering, visit www.coursera.org/campus. with Raymond B. Tribdino

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