In the previous seven months, the number of institutions using Coursera for Campus has extended from 30 to more than 3,700 as higher education providers tussled to provide their students with online education.

Since mid-March, over 21 million learners have joined Coursera, a 353% increase from the same period last year, while over the same period enrolments on Coursera grew 444% to eclipse more than 50 million, according to the company’s 2020 impact report.

Coursera is aiming to have 70% of the world’s 26,000 higher education institutions using the program within three years, according to Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda.

“There’s a lot of job relevance that can go along with licensing ready made courses”

Coursera for Campus was originally launched in October 2019, with a Campus Response Initiative introduced in March to offer free access to the program during pandemic-related campus closures.

The latest announcement is following on from the initiative to offer permanent free access so that “universities could still experiment with it”, Maggioncalda explained.

New features will allow universities to “deliver academic integrity for credit-bearing online learning, improve student employability, and author private courses”, Coursera noted.

Three offerings include a Student plan offering free access to unlimited Guided Projects for hands-on learning and one course annually, a Basic plan providing up to 20,000 free student licenses to every university, and an Institution plan providing unlimited Guided Projects and unlimited course enrollments for each student license.

“Covid has accelerated many trends in the learning space,” Maggioncalda said, including in higher education which has “generally been pretty careful about making changes”.

“I think [universities] have realised that – students have realised – there’s a lot of efficiency, there’s a lot of convenience, there’s a lot of affordability, there’s a lot of job relevance that can go along with licensing ready-made courses that you can use to supplement what you’re doing on campus,” he told The PIE.

In Q3, Coursera signed Coursera for Campus deals with higher education providers including Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, India, Iraq, Cameroon, Ecuador, Chile, the US, Malaysia, among others.

“Especially in emerging markets, there seems to be a lot of demand,” Maggioncalda told The PIE News.

“But honestly, it seems to be a pretty global phenomenon… I think that what we’re seeing is really widespread adoption of this new thing called online learning that’s happening all around the world and it’s happening pretty rapidly.”

“We would like within three years for 70% of all the universities in the world to be using our [service]”

This year, Coursera also raised $130m in Series F funding in order to “hire product and engineering people”, the CEO noted, as the company seeks to further engage with the higher education sector.

“We would like within three years for 70% of all the universities in the world to be using our [service].”

However, higher education needs to think carefully about operations to ensure access to education is not detrimentally impacted, he added, placing importance on mobile learning, particularly in emerging markets where students may lack access to desktop computers or may be unable to afford data plans or internet connectivity.

“If you have only a mobile phone and you don’t have persistent connectivity and your data plan is expensive, you’re not going to get a good education. And so that’s why we think mobiles important,” he said.

“People are realising that unless we’re careful, online learning done naively can really increase inequality between students.”

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