Coursera Teams with Colleges, Companies for Specializations

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Coursera’s Specialization Capstone Projects, which focus on the real-world application of knowledge, have garnered the interest of top tech companies such as Google, Instagram, Snapdeal, Shazam, and others.

“Experts at Google, Instagram and other companies are among the first industry partners to support the Capstone Projects for Coursera Specializations, which have enrolled hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.”

Coursera, best known for its free online courses, launched “Specializations” about a year ago. The specializations are Coursera’s version of “college credentials”, writes Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch. Specializations require students to complete specific classes and then finish with a capstone project which shows off the student’s academic knowledge that they have mastered with these specializations.

“As Coursera’s CEO and former Yale president Rick Levin told me, the idea behind the capstone projects is to allow students to do something practical with their new knowledge and to create an artifact that can then be valuable itself because it becomes part of the students’ portfolios.”

Companies are now playing an active role in these programs because jobs are always changing. The market is continually filled with job descriptions that “didn’t exist a decade ago” and companies are now seeing the value in online certificates.

The final Capstone Project of the Specializations put students though a number of courses which help them develop expertise in a specific area or master new skills. Courses are taught by traditional universities and they offer a real-time market perspective. Coursera is currently partnered with 19 different universities for the specializations in data science, digital marketing, business foundations, and global affairs.

Coursera is just one of the major companies that offer massive open online courses, or MOOCs, along with providders such as Udacity and edX. These companies originally started to be a free alternative to traditional four-year education, but with the need for an ongoing education, they are moving to focus more job training certificates in recent years, writes Issie Lapowsky of Wired.

“It’s showing that companies care about these programs and are interested in the outcomes,” says Rick Levin, who served as president of Yale for 20 years before becoming CEO of Coursera last year. “They’re taking the time to design a project for students. You’ve got to think that’s going to lead to, maybe, interviewing someone who completed the course.”

While all courses on Coursera can be taken for free, they only offer Statement of Accomplishments when completed. To get a Verified Certificates for courses, the student has to pay.

All the courses needed for the specialization must be passed with a Verified Certificate. The capstone project at the end of the specialization must be paid for as well.

Specializations range anywhere from $166 to $595 each when everything is added up, with the most expensive specialization at $595 being “Business Foundations.” The average price of some of the lower costing classes is $196, which is three Verified Certificates at $49 each and the capstone, another $49.