Proving that they are still the leader in offering massive open online courses (MOOCs), Coursera has released a beautiful native iPad app that provides access for learners on the move. The internet continues to change education and freely available MOOCs are just one example of a thriving open community.
Coursera is not alone but is the best funded and most the popular company in this field. They reportedly have raised over $80 million from a variety of business and education partners. It’s never enough to have money, but certainly it helps support a visionary team and fund an iOS app which is elegant and very functional.
Feature list from the Coursera blog announcement:
– Course browsing
– Course searching
– Course enrolling
– View personal course dashboard
– Video downloading and streaming
– Video speed changes
– Syllabus access
While allowing students to take courses for free seems like a hard business model, Coursera is on a mission to prove doubters wrong. Once they began offering certificates of completion for a small fee, they did start to make money, but there is still a long way to go.
The current course catalog has a lot of content made available from a wide range of education institutions, which is perhaps still the biggest irony that freely offered MOOCs are coming from faculty at schools where degrees cost money.
Online learning is a much different experience than attending a class in person and I have many students that stay away from online courses. I struggled the first time I taught an online course but improved with a lot of effort and training. The truth is that Coursera is making a difference in education on a lot of different levels. Online education is improving because the expectation of quality is getting higher and the competition is steeper than ever.