Coursera for Business Launches to Serve Corporate Market

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Coursera, one of the leading online learning platforms offering distance courses from prestigious colleges and universities, is expanding into corporate learning and development. Coursera for Business launched officially last week.

Rick Levin, Coursera CEO and a former president of Yale University, commented that the move was not surprising for the startup and it came naturally:

"We have 21 million registered users and are adding about half-a-million registered users per month. When we looked at the email addresses of our learners… we would see thousands signing up from one corporate email domain, ten thousand in one case."

According to Levin, it was clear that large corporations were already using Coursera to ensure the professional growth and development of their employees. As Lora Colodny of Tech Crunch noted, citing the 2015 Annual Training report, U.S. businesses spent $70.6 billion on corporate training expenditures last year. It resulted in less money going to payroll or full-time inhouse training staff, and more funds allocated to outside products and services. The report also suggested that 70 percent of companies use some kind of learning management systems and virtual classrooms.

Upon the official launch, Coursera counted many reputable companies as clients, including L'Oréal, Boston Consulting Group, and Axis Bank. The enterprise edition features specially curated curriculum tailored to corporate goals, with the option to track employee enrollment and learning progress, writes Paul Sawers of Venture Beat. Coursera for Business also offers learners certifications they can display either internally or on LinkedIn and elsewhere to show their competencies. Julia Stiglitz, a Coursera executive, cited a recent survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showing that millennials consider learning and development as important as their remuneration package.

Professionals in the field have been forecasting for years that MOOCs would take a preferred role for corporate education. Coursera already has experience in the field of corporate training, notes Jack Robinson of HRE Online. The company already teamed-up with Yahoo to train engineers.

Some of its competitors like Udacity, edX, and Udemy have also entered the corporate training market. For instance, Udacity's Open Education Alliance offers nanodegrees in tech subjects such as data analysis and web design. Microsoft partnered with the reputable French business school INSEAD to develop online sales training in 2014. In comparison to some of its competitors such as Pluralsight and Treehouse, Coursera is expanding its catalog from more technical topics to management, psychology, humanities, and the social sciences. Coursera's online classes are longer format videos and assessments and not videos and quizzes broken into small-sized chunks, added the company.

Established in the Sillicon Valley in 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera collaborates with numerous universities and other educational institutions to serve more than 20 million online students in hundreds of courses across business, technology, science, and other disciplines. Since its inception four years ago, Coursera has raised almost $150 million in VC investments. According to Curtis J. Bonk, a professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana University, Coursera will likely be successful in the field of corporate training as its certificates are having real value in the labor market.

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