Since its launch in April 2012 by two Stanford University Computer Science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera has added over 400 courses from 83 educational institution partners. To date, over 4.2 million students have already signed up for their online courses and they are by far the biggest and best funded of the MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) providers.
Coursera calls itself a social entrepreneurship company and it is funded by venture capital funds. While many of their courses were offered free when they first launched, they now charge for most of their courses but they have expanded Signature Track offering to provide accreditation for their courses and give better support to help students finish what they’ve started.
Incredibly, some of the most popular courses on the list below have hundreds of thousands of students enrolled. The Coursera learning platform itself was launched after Stanford University professor Andrew Ng had 100,000 students sign up for his MOOC on Machine Learning. Ng was amazed at the possibilities offered by online course delivery, “I normally teach 400 students. To reach that many students before I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”
Today, a motivated student who speaks English anywhere in the world can learn from some of the world’s best professors at Elite Universities such as Stanford University, Harvard University and the University of Toronto, which is a revolution in itself. But the MOOC education revolution is still in its early stages and the challenges of high in-completion rates, lack of official accreditation and a generally unimaginative use of innovative video and social technologies will have to be overcome.
Regardless, the writing is on the wall, the age of disruption is coming to institutions of higher education. With the cost of higher education spiralling out of the reach of many students, MOOCs offer a way to deliver education inexpensively to everyone, something that has the potential to dramatically transform lifelong learning and skill development.
Top 50 Most Popular Courses on Coursera
While Coursera does not published data on how many students are taking each course, I compiled this list of the most popular courses on Coursera by looking at each course’s search ranking on Google and the related activity on Twitter and Facebook.
While many online courses on Coursera used to be free, their focus is now on bundling courses together into full specializations that are recognizable credentials. Many of their course bundles aren’t inexpensive but they are taught by well-known professors and Coursera’s fees are about 10-15% of the cost of enrolling in these courses at their respective Universities.
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1. Data Science
12. Graphic Design
13. Machine Learning
44. Java For Android
46. Basic Statistics
That’s what the rankings of the most popular courses on Coursera looked like as June 2016. With new courses being added weekly, Coursera’s course offerings are set to expand beyond their traditional specialty in computer science-related disciplines.