Coursera for Business Useful for Training, Retention

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider Coursera has launched online learning for companies called Coursera for Business.

According to Coursera CEO Rick Levin, most of Coursera's users are specifically seeking content that will advance their careers, and are even signing in from corporate email addresses. He said:

Coursera was founded to help transform lives through access to high-quality learning experiences, and we've seen extraordinary success in supporting people's career goals.

We recognize that one of the best ways we can scale the impact of Coursera and our university partners is by working with the organizations that share the vision of equipping their employees with the knowledge and skills to excel in their careers.

Coursera offers online courses from 145 universities to its 21 million registered users.

Those who sign up for Coursera for Business get custom-designed programs based on the site's 1,400 existing online classes. Employers will be able to track enrollment and learning progress. It can also be co-branded with a special homepage and include single sign-on to allow learners to use their company accounts on Coursera. Learners who complete classes will be able to display their certifications on LinkedIn.

The charges for these courses will depend on the number of employees enrolling and the number of courses for which they sign up.

So far, its customers have included BNY Mellon, Boston Consulting Group, L'Oreal, and Axis Bank. Some are using it for training, whereas others see it as a retention tool, reports Michael Lev-Ram of Fortune.

Experts say that the online learning business model is hard to use to make a profit, and that these types of programs may be beneficial for all parties involved. According to Curtis J. Bonk, a professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana University, says, "this will be the sustainable revenue stream" for MOOCs, and will also be cheaper for companies than building classrooms and hiring instructors.

Its competitors, like Udemy and Khan Academy, have so far not launched a similar product specifically tailored for large businesses, though the idea of working with businesses is not a new one. Udacity's Open Education Alliance offers nanodegrees in subjects relevant to tech careers, reports Jack Robinson of HRE Daily.

According to Paul Sawers of Venture Beat, the corporate e-learning market was worth $12 billion in the US alone last year and could hit a $31 billion global worth by 2020. Total US corporate training expenditures reached $70.6 billion last year. More than 70% of companies use learning management systems and other virtual learning platforms, and at least 40% use application simulation tools, reports Lora Kolodny of Tech Crunch.

Coursera, launched in 2012 out of Mountain View California, has partnered up with universities like Duke, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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