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Online learning platform Coursera is giving current undergraduate, graduate, and recent graduates with a verified school email access to 90% of its site for free.
For $0 (and no credit card even needed at checkout), students gain access to 3,800 classes, 150 Guided Projects, 400 Specializations, and 11 Professional Certificates. There’s no limit to how many classes students can enroll in. Available courses range in topics from humanities and languages to computer science and data to business and entrepreneurship.
Students can earn credentials from some of the best instructors and the world’s top universities, including the University of Michigan, Yale University, and Duke University. Professional Certificates can be earned from leading companies such as Google and SAS, which use online courses to educate the up-and-coming workforce with in-demand skills they need.
Students can enroll in programs until September 30, 2020, and must complete them within the two months following the enrollment date.
After September 30, 2020, students will still have free access to Guided Projects, which are short, hands-on learning experiences that develop job-relevant skills like data analysis with Plotly and Python, app development in Android Studio with Java, or social media marketing with Canva. Thanks to the interactive nature of these projects, Coursera says students should be able to learn a new skill in under two hours with step-by-step guidance from a subject matter expert.
According to Coursera’s Chief Product Officer Shavran Goli, the company determines the most in-demand job skills by talking with its 200 institutional partners about their needs. They also use labor insights from Burning Glass, a company that reportedly uses AI to analyze hundreds of millions of job postings and career transitions to provide insight into current job market patterns. Once Coursera knows which skills employers are actively hiring for, Coursera determines which classes the site should teach.
Because Coursera’s college student initiative is designed to support students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth mentioning its accessibility. Students can easily access courses through a mobile app, there’s no need to install any software to complete guided projects, and the site has courses in multiple languages — though English remains the dominant default.
Beyond Coursera’s student initiative helping the 1.2 billion students experiencing a disruption in their education, internships, and summer jobs, the site has also created a Workforce Recovery Initiative. The initiative gives broad, free access to its site to unemployed workers through government agencies.
Coursera also created a CME-eligible course on COVID-19 with Osmosis, a medical e-learning site, and is home to the “COVID-19 Contact Tracing” training course built as part of the New York Contact Tracing program from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (Contact tracing is expected to create 6,400 to 17,000 tracer jobs statewide.)
When asked if there was a business model to Coursera’s latest initiative, Goli answered in the negative. “We just want to help ensure that anyone who wants or needs to continue their education is able to do so.”
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