Coursera was founded at Stanford University in 2012 by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. The company raised $22 million in its first year and has taken in $65 million to date, according to an article in VentureBeat. A recent statement announced that after a rapid expansion, Coursera now partners with 83 schools and offers 400 college courses to four million students. Coursera classes have been adapted by 10 state university systems.
Coursera is one of many online education providers that have been garnering a lot of attention with their massive open online course (MOOC) offerings. Some question the legitimacy of Coursera's free or inexpensive video courses given by Ivy League professors, claiming it is not a substitution for a college education.
According to its founders, however, it isn't supposed to be. Coursera is not a replacement for degree programs, but a means for students to learn about fields of interest without paying tuition. It is described as a supplement to the education that its students receive at traditional colleges. In fact, most MOOC students already have received college degrees.
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The $43 million in venture capital funds came from investors specializing in domestic and worldwide education, according to a New York Times article. These include International Finance Corporation (IFC), GSV Capital, Laureate Education, Learn Capital, venture capitalist Yuri Milner, as well as other existing investors.
Last year, the Times reported, Coursera raised $22 million in investments from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, the University of Pennsylvania and California Institute of Technology. In choosing the newest group of investors, Koller said in a statement that she considered their expertise in education technology, as well as their connections to up-and-coming markets.
Coursera plans to use its funding to double its team to 100 employees and continue marketing its courses to reach global students. This will likely include translation services and programs that professors can use during lessons. Coursera also intends to continue its collaboration with book publishers to make more learning materials available for students. The company is also looking into the creation of mobile apps and further development of its Signature Track services.
Coursera began offering Signature Track for five of its courses in January. The program offers students the option of paying a fee to receive an identity-verified certificate upon completion of a free course. Since its implementation, Signature Track has raised $800,000 for Coursera. The company plans to expand its number of institutional partnerships as well. Given its quick success, if Coursera isn't already the leading provider in MOOC education, it is certainly giving others competition.
Coursera has already expanded partnerships to include 29 universities in 13 different countries.