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Combining Education and Internet with Finesse

By Richard K. Levin, Chief Executive Officer, Coursera


Richard K. Levin, Chief Executive Officer, Coursera

The education sector in India is no longer bound to just classrooms. There is a huge rise in online education in India courtesy a survey which says that the e-learning market in the country is estimated to be around $3 billion. Therefore, keeping up with the current market trend and offering easy accessibility to education is essential. Keen on bridging the gap between education and employment, majority of the companies want candidates with advanced skills that was not in demand five or ten years ago such as data science, digital marketing, and other emerging programming languages. Successful job candidates are playing a greater role in getting themselves a foundational knowledge in the skills that they require throughout their careers. There is an increasing demand from workers and employers alike for several verified certification courses and specializations that demonstrate immediate employability in this competitive job market.

LinkedIn published a list of the top 25 skills that got people hired in 2014. Several of these courses specializations assure access to most of the key employment skills. For those interested in a quick way to become proficient in a skill which is in high demand in the job market right now, there are quite a few recommend and popular specializations such as Data Science from Johns Hopkins University, Mobile Cloud Computing with Android from the University of Maryland and Business Foundations from University of Pennsylvania.

The majority of the learners look to seek knowledge to boost their careers, and the figures are even higher in India wherein online learning certificates have already started gaining acceptance. Many of these learners didn't have the chance to attend a leading university. Others are several years out of college and need a way to gain essential new job skills without dropping everything to go back to college full time. They are particularly attracted to these specializations, which are a series of courses that build proficiency in a specific career-relevant topic. Every day, there are numerous people who believe that by describing the skills that they learned on these certifications in a job interview, they were able to convince the employer in hiring them. Courses in technology and business tend to have a higher rate of learners opting to earn the relevant certificates. There is an extensive research which is done to understand the requirements of the workforce by connecting companies with certain university partners to share industry insights. A great surge has been witnessed in interest from corporations to partner with the top universities to play an active role in educating aspirants throughout their careers. Coursera Capstone Projects offer an applied learning experience to those who have completed all of the coursework in a specialization. Several leading companies help design these Capstone Projects and provide direct feedback to top performers in the class. For example, Snapdeal.com from India is providing a Capstone Project for a Business Foundations Specialization created by Wharton, a top university. Such projects allow the learners to add evidence to their portfolio that demonstrates versatility and proficiency to potential employers.

Striving for Constant Improvement
In addition to updating content regularly, work is increasingly being done with partners to improve the quality of the courses through the analytics tools on our platform. With thousands of learners pursuing different courses, identifying the weaker spots within a course is suitable. For example, it's easy to see where learners drop out if there's an exam question that the previous lectures didn't address or an assignment that's not explained well. A few small changes based on the analytics data can significantly improve the learning experience. As a result, a dramatic increase in the availability of career-relevant courses can be expected this year.

Efforts are also undertaken in making learning more convenient than ever. Rather than taking courses with deadlines that have to be met, the learners can now start and complete many of these courses on-demand and complete them at their own pace. Like Netflix has transformed the way movies are watched on the internet and Apple has transformed the way music is being listened to, on-demand education gives the learners an option to get infusions of knowledge exactly when they want it. There is a concerted and driven aim to have the majority of these courses and specializations available on-demand by the end of the year.

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