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Coursera Raises $64 Million in Bid to Expand Offerings

By Cait Etherington
June 10, 2017

On June 7, MOOC leader, Coursera, announced that it had raised $64 million in a Series D round of funding.The funding positions Coursera to continue pouring dollars into research and development in a bid to retain its place as the top provider of MOOCs in higher education and the training sector.

While Coursera is best known for its partnerships with universities around the world, it recently launched Coursera for Business, which is an online education program for organizations seeking to retrain employees or offer refresher courses on industry best practices. Earlier this year, the company also launched Coursera for Governments & Nonprofits in a bid to provide high-quality and affordable training to nonprofits.  Bolstered by its new funding, Coursera expects to expand its offerings on all three fronts over the coming year.

AI and Training Courses will Dominate Coursera’s Next Steps

CourseraUnder the leadership of CEO Rick Levin, the former president of Yale University, Cousera’s recent funding drive is part of the MOOC provider’s bid to expand its course offerings by pushing into new areas of research and development, including the use of artificial intelligence to improve and personalize the learning experience. Notably, the company also plans to expand its range of online degree programs while also expanding its corporate training offerings.

As Levin explains, “As the industry leader in online higher education, we have a massive opportunity ahead of us in preparing people, companies, and governments to respond to the changing nature of jobs and to take on the urgent challenges of workforce transformation.” Levin further emphasizes, “This round of funding enables us to continue innovating across our platform to deliver better learner outcomes, and to accelerate the momentum we have in our new initiatives — enterprise and degrees.”

Venture Capital Firms Back Coursera

Notably, an eclectic list of investors are supporting Coursera as it continues to expand. Investors include Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), as well as GSV Asset Management, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Learn Capital. On the philanthropic side, The Lampert Foundation, has also been named as one of Coursera’s new investors.

Given Coursera’s success since 2012, investors have good reason to pour money into the company. Over the past five years, Coursera has secured 26 million registered users, offered 2,000 courses in 180 specializations and started to offer master’s degrees in business, computing, and accounting, as well as a range of training-based courses across fields, including courses targeting workers in the nonprofit sector. Coursera’s 150 university partners has also added to the company’s legitimacy.

Michael Moe, the CEO Of GSV Asset Management, explains why his firm is investing in Coursera: “We are excited to see Coursera emerge as the world’s learning platform, with a highly engaged global learner base and educational content from leading universities and top companies. In a global marketplace and knowledge-based economy, education makes the difference not only for how well an individual does, but for companies, and for that matter, countries.”

Speculations about Coursera’s Future

Braining training lumosityThere is no question that Coursera currently has a lot of momentum on its side, but it also has strong competition. The company continues to compete with other MOOC heavyweights, including Udacity, Udemy and EdX.  Coursera, which will likely go public next year, has some distinct advantages over other MOOC providers. Most notably, Coursera is a global companies (its largest markets are in the United States and India but its partnerships stretch around the globe), it already offers more courses than other providers, and it has more users (more than twice as many as edX the second largest MOOC providers in the world). The real question is not whether or not Coursera will continue to dominate the MOOC market but how it will do so and continue to transform education and training, and this certainly seems to be part of Levin’s vision for Coursera.

As Levin told a group of Stanford Graduate School of Business students in 2014 shortly after he left Yale to lead Coursera, “It’s going to be a long time before there’s a really revolutionary disruption in traditional education. The idea that we’re going to completely disrupt the educational system as opposed to just reaching more people who are outside it or improving the experience of those who are inside it is probably just a little early.” But Levin also emphasized, we have an amazing opportunity revolutionize education: “The idea that a single Stanford professor or a single Yale professor would teach an online class for 8 or 10 weeks and teach more students in that class than they would teach in a 30- or 40-year teaching career at home is amazing.”

5 Comments

  1. […] Since many states have frozen their accountability systems tracking the school performance of virtual schools is difficult at the moment; indeed, only 18 of the 38 states with virtual and/or blended schools could provide a full range of data. As emphasized by the NEPC, “This points to a larger story about school accountability as virtual and blended schools in the United States continue to expand. It is understandable that states are being cautious about holding schools accountable under new provisions; however, gaps in data make it difficult to assess the extent to which virtual and blended schools are successfully meeting student needs.” Among reporting schools, however, the NEPC reports that virtual schools continued to under-perform academically compared to blended schools. Notably, the prior year, virtual schools outperformed blended schools.  A key finding in 2017 is that among virtual schools, a higher percentage of nonprofits (33.3%) and independents (43.6%) received acceptable rankings than EMOs (25.7% acceptable). Likewise, district-operated virtual schools (55.9% acceptable) significantly outperformed charter school  counterparts (23.8% acceptable). In terms of on-time graduation rates, however, all types of virtual schools continue to lag behind the national average. Again, this may be explained by the fact that online education is frequently embraced as an option when a student is already under performing in a traditional school. What do these findings suggest? Given the gaps in reporting, it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions. Findings do suggest, however, that at the moment, public schools embracing blended learning situations appear to be reporting the strongest results in K-12 virtual schooling. Indeed, moving forward, the public system rather than the private system may emerge as a leader in K-12 virtual schooling. […]

  2. A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is a system for delivering learning materials to students via the web. Now everything is made easier for the students as most lectures, assessments and other information related to the academic curriculum are made available 24/7 online. Providing access to these material both on and off-campus helps students who find it difficult to come to campus due to various reasons with their academic work.
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