For this week, I would like to write about a community I have been a part of for a very long time- Coursera. Coursera is a venture backed, for-profit educational technology company that offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You might ask me why I consider Coursera as a online community, it is a platform for education providers to outsource universal access, often free, to world-class education. These education providers are top universities and organisations; whose facilities are either unaffordable or inaccessible due to proximity. People from different conutries can study or take a course sitting on their laptop. In the process, it forms a virtual classroom involving a teacher who communicates with students and the students who interact within each other. Theses courses often last a month or two and involves everyday classroom activities over the internet. Coursera uses multi-media including text, images, audio and visual mediums to interconnect its users.
Most courses are free and can be taken by anyone and everyone. A certain portion are courses with minimal fees, depending upon the content or the university of the course and they provide official certification to successful candidates. A media student I have completed a few courses myself- Business strategy, marketing, pitching skills short-hand writing, medieval literature. My experience was marvellous and I made friends on my course that I still keep in touch with! All while on my desktop!
Coursera makes the millennial dream of universal education, a reality by providing universal access. It harnesses interaction among scholars, professors and commoners who share a common love for learning. Can you imagine the repercussions this business model can have in countries where people cannot afford educations? Perhaps a little village in Western Africa? The wonders Coursera could create had I been a state-backed initiative with the reach and resources.
At this moment, Coursera could be a much needed beginning to this change.