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Founded by two Stanford University professors, Coursera hopes to bring top class university courses to the masses
In April 2012 Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, two computer science professors at Stanford University, founded Coursera, a website offering free courses from some of the world’s best universities.
They got inspired by three online courses launched by Stanford University in 2011, each of which attracted about 100,000 students.
After less than a year, Coursera had 2.6 million users, who can choose among several hundreds courses from 62 universities. The University of Copenhagen joined Coursera in early 2013.
The mission of Coursera is to democratize the quality tertiary education that up until now has only been available to a selected few.
The only things you need to take a course on Coursera are curiosity, willingness to learn, and an Internet connection fast enough to stream videos. Something that 600 million people worldwide have.
Other similar online learning platforms are Udacity, also a spin off from Stanford University, edX from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Khan Academy, targeted at high school students.
Coursera doesn’t at present make any profit, following the Silicon Valley motto to grow fast and worry about money later.
While courses will remain free of charge, students could be asked to pay about USD 100 to get a passing certificate. Coursera could also gain from connecting students with companies seeking employees.
In the long run, professors too could get royalties. Coursera is not expected to enter in competition with its partner universities as they provide completely different services.
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