Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Courses beyond Borders: A Case Study of MOOC Platform Coursera

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Courses beyond Borders: A Case Study of MOOC Platform Coursera

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Online learning has revolutionized the world of educational community in the recent past as being more cost effective and convenient for learners in comparison to traditional educational system. Online learning has become a boon for more and more learners to get associated with it and continue their educations. Earlier studies have defined online learning as an environment where at least some part of student curriculum is offered via online course delivery mode, or as a transfer of information via internet where students and educators need not to be present at the same time and same place (Berge and Collins, 1995). Similarly, Harasim et al. (1995) define online learning more clearly as such an environment where student's entire curriculum is offered via online course delivery mode, thereby eliminating various limitations like geographical barriers, time, etc. In short, online learning has opened the doors for both educators and learners where they do not need to be bound to four walls of a room in order to provide face-to face instructions (Richardson and Swan, 2003). Likewise, Keegan (1996) defines online learning as a form of distance education with basic feature being no face-to-face interaction between teacher and student. Some studies state that online learning is that education where teaching as well as document delivery to students is done through internet in the first place (Cavanaugh, Barbour and Clark, 2009; Watson, Winograd and Kalmon, 2004).

Now-a-days, these courses are termed as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The year 2012 is regarded as 'the year of MOOCs' as most of the developments in the field of MOOCs has been chronicled in 2012 (Pappano, 2012; Siemens, 2012). Thrun, as cited in Leckart (2012), also denotes it as a significant year which lays down the basis for MOOCs to shape the future of higher education by offering full degrees and thus declining 'brick and mortar' type institutions. Several well-known MOOCs have already developed over the years paving the way for MOOCs to enter into the mainstream e.g. Coursera (www.coursera.org), Udacity (www.udacity.com), EdX (www.edx.org), etc. These MOOCs in association with various elite institutions offer online courses to students (Daniel, 2012). The future of education as such belongs to MOOCs and related and improved or more evolved versions of the phenomenon. The world population is increasing at a very drastic rate which human civilization has not witnessed before. Therefore, besides food and shelter education is paramount for the people. So this new way of learning like MOOCs can address the issue to great extent and will help knowledge seekers from across the globe to learn from some of the best teachers and scholars in the world.

In this context, the present study makes an endeavor to assess Coursera with respect to courses offered, institutional participation and involvement of educationists towards sustenance and growth of Coursera. The study can be helpful for library professionals, knowledge seekers and policy makers in education sector globally to know the current status and growth, opportunities and options available with regard to MOOCs. The study has deliberately chosen Coursera as this is one of the largest platforms and gives better understanding of the overall sector.

2. COURSERA: An Overview

Coursera is an online distance education platform offering online courses to any person desirous to learn, having partners across the world from various top universities and organizations with a mission to create collaborative programs. These programs make an endeavor to make education a basic right of every person. It was founded in 2012 by Daphne Kollar and Andrew Ng, Computer Science Professors from Stanford University and was officially launched in April 2012 (Coursera, 2016a). As on February 24, 2016, Coursera offered 1765 courses through 138 partners from 28 countries with more than 17.5 million learners registered. …

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