Have you been itching to enhance your education, but can't see past piles of laundry and work to attend a course on campus? Then you'll be excited about "Coursera." All you need is an internet connection. You can study at universities around the world, and it's free. Choose from courses taught by top professors in the humanities, sciences, finance, computer sciences, and much more.
How does Coursera work?
According to an article in the Globe and Mail, "Students log in to Coursera, and have lecture modules every week and homework assignments that are graded for free either by their peers or through Coursera’s online program. For those who argue that there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction, it turns out that students who take these courses self-organize into small online groups to work together. At the end of the course, students receive a certificate if they have mastered the material."
Why is Coursera attractive to parents?
- You join a global community of learners, exchanging ideas with people all over the world. Quite an opportunity, considering some days we don't interact with anyone outside our suburb!
- You can learn in your jammies once the kids are in bed, or in between shifts at work. Any time.
-You might live in a remote community or a big city. It's all the same.
- You're thinking about going back to work, or are contemplating a career change. This could be a great way to explore areas of interest.
With major research centres joining the venture and over 680,000 students, there's no doubt that this new way of learning is appealing to both professors and students. I can't say whether this new kind of learning will be an adequate replacement for face to face interactions. I can say that I think Corsera is a coup for most parents with schedules that won't allow for on-campus education.
In the words of co-founder Dr. Daphne Koller: "I would like to make it so that education was a right, and not a privilege." (Globe and Mail, Oct. 8th, "Building Open Learning Platforms in Canada.")