Coursera adds Columbia, Brown, and more to its roster of universities helping it digitalize higher education

coursera homeThe technical sciences are undergoing a revolution — that much is clear. Platforms like Treehouse and Codeacademy have seen to it that the way we learn, teach, and find jobs in Web and mobile development and design will change and is changing.

The liberal arts have a longer way to go, but Coursera is fighting to the fight to bring them into the digital age. The startup’s focus is to bring Ivy League-level education to the Internet, and has already gotten the likes of Princeton and Stanford on board with its mission. Today, Coursera is announcing its signed another 17 university partners, including Brown, Vanderbilt, the Mount Sinai Medical School, Columbia University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, giving it more than 30 university partnerships and 200+ courses offered — and co-founder Daphne Koller says that enrollment has reached 1.35 million. Not bad for a platform that launched less than a year ago. 

At the moment, the way that much of Coursera works is more as a supplement to a traditional college education than a replacement, although the University of Washington is providing a for-credit version of one of Coursera’s online courses. “The universities design and produce the content, and own all IP on that,” Koller says. “We develop the platform and disseminate the courses to students via the platform… many of our partner universities are using these courses as part of the instruction for their own on-campus students, as part of a flipped classroom or blended learning instruction.”
Thanks to a generous series A fundraising round, Coursera is still entirely free, although monetization plans remain on the roadmap. Koller says there a possibility of charging a “modest amount” for certification, or for “facilitating introductions between employers and students in our courses — with student opt-in only.”

There’s more than enough debate surrounding how effective these alternative education platforms are, but Coursera’s more collaborative approach should certainly put the critics at ease. And there’s definitely an argument for evolving higher education that isn’t just computer science-oriented: This level of education and many of these subjects have simply been out of reach. Not many of us can afford to audit “A History of the World since 1300” Princeton University course; but thanks to the Internet — and Coursera — you can.

The demand is high, the interest is there, the funding is generous, and the momentum seems to be building in favor of higher education disruption. For Coursera’s focus, it might be slower going (history courses, after all, have a longer shelf life than iOS dev classes), but it’s definitely happening.


Mobile

Google confirms it still tracks users who turn Location History off

Google is tracking your location -- even when you tell it not to. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, Google services store location data, regardless of whether privacy settings claim otherwise.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in August, from ‘Arrested Development’ to ‘Dark Tourist’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

Amazon Prime brings more perks than just free two-day shipping. Subscribers get access to a huge library of TV shows to stream at no extra cost. Here are our favorite TV shows currently available on Amazon Prime.
Smart Home

Alexa goes to college as Saint Louis University puts an Echo in every dorm room

Smart speakers have been deployed on campus before but Saint Louis University is going all in by providing an Amazon Echo Dot to every on-campus living space on campus, totaling over 2,300 devices.
Social Media

Three million people quit Snapchat after the redesign

After a million users signed petitions to get the old Snapchat back, the network's user count is showing the early results of the changes with a three-million-user drop in daily active users.
Social Media

Facebook wants to help you find a mentor with its latest Groups feature

Facebook is designed for connecting to other people -- so why not mentors? Today, Facebook launched a program inside Groups that allows for two users to go through a mentorship program together.
Features

The numbers don’t lie: Facebook is faltering. So what will eventually replace it?

Facebook is faltering, and the data prove it. User growth is slowing, employee outlooks are dipping, and young people are looking elsewhere. But for Facebook to fail, an alternative must arise. Who will it be?
Social Media

Facebook’s less cluttered friend list feeds are no more

Facebook friend feeds created a more curated news feed -- but not anymore. Facebook discontinued the feature, saying it wasn't widely used. The move will help the network focus on improving the news feed, the company says.
Photography

Starting a vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability.
Photography

For Monaris, it’s a photography career launched on an iPhone and Instagram

On Instagram, she's known just as Monaris. But street photographer Paola Franqui has built a following largely with an iPhone and a smile. We sat down with her to talk photography, style, and Instagram, of course.
Mobile

Marco? Polo! Let's explore the app known as the 'video walkie-talkie'

Marco Polo has been dubbed the "video walkie-talkie," but how does the video messaging app stack up against competitors like Snapchat and Instagram? From unique filters to personalized video messages, we explore the Marco Polo app.
Social Media

Kids can now initiate a friend request on Messenger Kids by using a password

Facebook's messaging app for the under-13 crowd required parents, not kids, to initiate the process of adding a friend. Now kids can start the process by using a unique passphrase -- a feature that still requires parental approval.
Photography

The Nixplay Iris might just make digital picture frames cool again

The digital picture frame's popularity has fizzled because of time-consuming updates and low quality -- but can a Wi-Fi connected frame change that? The Nixplay Iris is an 8-inch smart digital picture frame that wireless updates photos.
Social Media

Instagram hackers are changing account info into Russian email addresses

Have you logged in to your Instagram lately? A hack circulating this month has Instagram users locked out of their accounts because a hacker changed all the profile data, according to a report.