Slate of Singapore Universities Turn to Coursera for Online Ed


Singapore is expanding its contributions to online education as three of its universities have created more free courses to offer to students across the globe through the popular education platform Coursera.

Nanyang Technological University will be offering three new massive open online courses next year, alongside the National University of Singapore. The National Institute of Education plans on partnering with Coursera for their first foray into online education by the end of next year.

The new courses provided by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) include one on interdisciplinary societal issues, another on environmental sustainability, and a third on Confucian philosophy.

NTU’s senior associate provost for undergraduate education, Professor Kam Chan Hin, revealed the courses at an education conference and said that they were chosen in part by feedback from faculty.

NTU has already had some successful online courses with US-based provider Coursera in the last two years, according to Jing Yng of Today Online. The completion rate of NTU’s online courses is 7-8%, which is higher than the average of 5%.

Professor Kam said:

It attests to the quality of the course; people do it, they find it enjoyable to learn about it, it motivates them to finish.

95% of the courses’ students aren’t enrolled at NTU, and 4% (or 8,100) students pay for a certificate of completion. Most of the students outside of Singapore come from the US and India. 40% of NTU’s online course sign-ups come from Asia, 28% from Europe, 19% from North America, and 5% from Africa.

NTU plans on using Coursera’s data to improve its online education techniques.

Kam explained the utility of using data to improve their offerings:

When you have a massive scale of students… it becomes a very powerful experiment where you can see how to change your pedagogy or what affects your learner. You can do this when you have lots of data.

The National Institute of Education (NIE) International, which is the business department of the Institute, will be creating classes for Coursera on education topics like management and school leadership. Students who pay a fee will receive accreditation from the Institute, writes Amelia Teng of Asia One.

Professor Lee Sing Kong, managing director of NIE International, said that the organization plans on offering one or two online courses by the end of next year.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) was the first local university to work with Coursera, according to the Straits Times. This year was its second with the provider, and its courses have already attracted 180,000 students from over 100 countries. This year’s classes were on Superhero Entertainment and Public Relations for Digital Media. Next January, it will be offering a program on Communicating in the Globalized Workplace.