People agree that Dan Ariely is a pretty cool professor teaching a pretty rad class: “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior”.
To review some of the reasons why we love Professor Dan Ariely:
1) He builds toy robots
Robots are generally considered rational beings
2) He uses classy words like “Loins” (at 2:36)
3) He uses relatable daily scenarios to teach important lessons, like when you put on your hilarious “I’m-eating-birthday-cake” face
4) Considering you just stuffed your face with cake, he reminds you to stick to your diet by using cash instead of credit cards. NO MUFFIN FOR YOU, SIR!
5) He knows I only “borrowed” those colorful Post-Its from the office for a “really important weekend project”.
Photo credit: http://iruntheinternet.com/04380
6) He knows there is nothing more powerful than “The IKEA Effect”:
Take my own recipe “Breakfast Protein Cupcake Creation-Thingy”: I think it’s amazing, but my colleague David thinks “It tastes like chalk” »
Behold my AMAZING CHALKY CREATION.
Now you are convinced to take Dan Ariely’s course: “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior”!
We are tremendously excited to announce our newest Courserian: David Liu, formerly a Director of Legal at Google, joins us as our General Counsel.
David Liu joins Coursera’s leadership team as a General Counsel to help Coursera navigate the legal complexities that come with growing a worldwide education platform. David is a seasoned veteran of business and law, and brings extensive entrepreneurial experience, having co-founded one of the leading product companies in the scrapbooking space and an e-commerce fundraising platform.
David joins us from Causera, a startup focused on providing schools and other community organizations with innovative commerce and group management tools (any similarity in company name is purely coincidental, folks!) He previously served as an Associate and Director of Legal at Google. During his nine years there, David served as the lead attorney for a wide range of products, including AdSense, Google Earth, and Google Wallet, and as the knowledge lead for content acquisition, software distribution, and platform integration transactions. He also led the New Product Initiatives legal team, which supported Google’s new business development efforts, and the Commerce legal team, which supported Google’s payments and offers products.
David earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his JD from Harvard Law School.
The father of three, David is active in his school PTA and look forward a future where his kids’ educational experiences will be enriched by the perspectives of participants from around the world.
Courserians, please join us in welcoming David on board!
Comment or Tweet @Coursera your greetings!
We are tremendously excited to announce a key hire joining Coursera’s leadership team; Dr. Vivek Goel, the former Provost of the University of Toronto and current President and CEO of Public Health Ontario, joins us in May as our Chief Academic Strategist.
As Chief Academic Strategist, Dr. Goel will help us build and maintain our fast growing ecosystem of partner universities and educational institutions, while assisting partners to explore deeper and broader course development, collaboration, and joint academic initiatives.
Throughout his career, Vivek has built strategic partnerships across organizations in a range of industries–from health services to academia, government and beyond. In his current role as the Founding President and CEO of Public Health Ontario, Vivek leds this new agency in improving the use of information and knowledge in the public health practice. Previously, Vivek was Vice President and Provost at the University of Toronto, where he is still a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Institute for Health Policy, Management & Evaluation. Vivek is also an adjunct senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, a member of the board for the Change Foundation, and a member of the National Statistics Council at Statistics Canada. Dr. Goel earned an MD from McGill University, and two Master’s degrees in health administration and biostatistics from The University of Toronto and Harvard University, respectively.
Please join us in welcoming Vivek on board!
Comment or Tweet @Coursera your greetings!
High school students at the French American International School in San Francisco learned the computer program language Python via free course material on Coursera.
A few months ago Seth Hubbert, the Director of Academic Technology for French American International School in San Francisco, got in touch with us with an interesting idea.
Seth had an idea to form a club of students that would learn Computer Science by taking An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python from Rice University together.
High Schools around the world often find it challenging to offer classes in the most recent computer science fields, despite high interest from students. Seth was creative in overcoming these limitations and preparing his students with cutting-edge skills for when they graduate.
Hi Seth, can you please tell us a little more about yourself and the French American International School? What is your background in Computer Science?
I’m a former chemistry and physics high school teacher, and now work as the Director of Academic Technology for French American International School. Our school is an independent Pre-K through 12th grade school in San Francisco. We deliver a rigorous bilingual immersion program through middle school, culminating in either the French Baccalaureate or International Baccalaureate program.
I don’t have a very extensive background in Computer Science. I took a couple of undergraduate courses while earning a B.S. in Physics, but haven’t touched it much since then. I was learning right along with the students!
Tell us a little more about your class/club? How did it work?
The club was comprised of 25 high school students interested in gaining exposure to coding. We agreed to sign up and work through the Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python Course. To support one another, we agreed to meet physically twice a week to help each other with the content and stay on track and motivated.
What were the results like?
I was quite impressed with the dedication of the students! 20 of them (10 male, 10 female) finished the course with high enough marks to earn a Verified Certificate.
What was the biggest surprise for you?
I was surprised by the number of students that earned their certificate! They are all incredibly busy and have full course loads. I imagined some of them would use this as an opportunity to get a peek at some coding content, without fully committing to the 5-plus hours a week required to stay on top of the work, but I was wrong! They all took the challenge and often gave up their Friday and Saturday nights to fine-tune their projects. I’m extremely proud of their dedication and their skill as programmers!
What worked well? What advice would you give to teachers interested in replicating your program at their school?
I think having the face-to-face check-in times was key. I think it was beneficial not only for them to get help from each other when needed, but for the social motivation to stick with the course, knowing their peers had made the same commitment. I also was adamant that they not see me as a traditional content-expert teacher. I wanted them to see me as a coach, motivator, mentor, etc., and this helped them rely more on each other for help and support.
What’s next for some of your students? What’s next for you and the club?
Soon we plan on launching a spring version and bringing a few more interested students into the fold that missed the first opportunity. A majority of students that completed the Python course are interested in going deeper, and continue taking other programming MOOCs to develop their coding skills!
Are you a teacher with or without computer science background, but still want to try teaching Computer Science to your students? The always popular An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python from Rice University is starting next month.
Providing access to education for everyone has always been at the core of Coursera’s mission, and it is with deep regret that we have had to make a change to our accessibility in some countries.
Certain United States export control regulations prohibit U.S. businesses, such as MOOC providers like Coursera, from offering services to users in sanctioned countries, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Under the law, certain aspects of Coursera’s course offerings are considered services and are therefore subject to restrictions in sanctioned countries, with the exception of Syria (see below).
Our global community is incredibly valuable to us and we remain committed to providing quality to education to all. During this time, we empathize with the frustrations of students who are affected by this change and we have made it a top priority to make rapid progress toward a solution.
What will happen to students attempting to access Coursera from sanctioned countries?
As of this week, students attempting to log into course pages on our site or create new accounts will be restricted from access to these resources. It will still be possible to browse the course catalog and explore the Coursera website and blog, which are considered public information rather than services and therefore not subject to restrictions.
What is Coursera doing to address this issue?
Coursera is working very closely with the U.S. Department of State and Office of Foreign Assets Control to secure permissions to reinstate site access for students in sanctioned countries. The Department of State and Coursera are aligned in our goals and we are working tirelessly to ensure that blockage is not permanent.
Why has this not been an issue in the past?
Until now the interpretation of export control regulations as they relate to MOOCs has been unclear and Coursera has been operating under the interpretation that MOOCs would not be restricted. We recently received information that has led to the understanding that the services offered on Coursera are not in compliance with the law as it stands. Accordingly we have instituted a restriction in compliance with the current export controls to ensure that our business remains in good standing with the law.
How is Coursera identifying students in sanctioned countries?
Coursera has implemented an IP address block that prevents users in sanctioned countries from logging into a Coursera account. When attempting to sign in, these users will see a message explaining that we cannot allow them to access the site due to U.S. export control restrictions. In rare instances, students with IP addresses bordering on but not geopolitically within the bounds of these countries will be affected. Our engineers are working to mitigate this issue while pursuing a broader solution to the restrictions.
What is being blocked in Syria?
Coursera has received notice from the Department of State that the services we provide fall under an exception (according to OFAC’s Syria General License No. 11A), which authorizes certain services in support of nongovernmental organizations’ activities in Syria, particularly as they pertain to increasing access to education. This came to our attention after we initiated the blockage, however since learning about the exception, we have restored full access to students in Syria.
During this difficult time, we thank the Coursera community for your patience and continued support as we work to ensure that students worldwide have access to a great education.
With the start of the New Year, we are pleased to welcome the latest rotation of leaders to Coursera’s University Advisory Board (UAB): David Lee, Provost of Princeton University; Sir Tim O’Shea, Principal of the The University of Edinburgh; Ben Polak, Provost of Yale University; and Wei Shyy, Provost of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
We are indebted to our outgoing UAB members Chris Eisgruber, formerly Provost and now President of Princeton University, who is replaced by his successor, David Lee; John Etchemendy, Provost of Stanford University; Peter Lange, Provost of Duke University; and Phyllis Wise, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. These individuals, and the universities that they represent, have had a major impact on Coursera’s growth, and we are grateful for their thoughtful guidance and service to the cause of advancing global education.
“I wish to extend my deep personal thanks and express our collective appreciation to Chris Eisgruber, John Etchemendy, Peter Lange, and Phyllis Wise, who will be rotating off the Board, for their insight and valuable assistance, said Vincent Price, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, and Chair of the UAB. “They have each done much – and will continue to do more, no doubt – to shape Coursera.”
“It has been a special privilege to be on the UAB,” said Provost Peter Lange of Duke University. “The chance to have substantive and meaningful input to Coursera and its strategy at the infancy of the MOOC era, to come to understand the enormous opportunities, and not inconsiderable challenges in meeting its educational mission, and to work with a great group of university leaders and the Coursera leadership has been invaluable for me and for Duke’s ability to develop its strategy for the use of online course materials.”
The UAB plays a vital role in determining Coursera’s trajectory, guiding our company’s priorities and policies, and helping ensure that the interests of our students and partner institutions are met. This group is collectively responsible for the approval of all new partnership decisions and for surfacing the preferences of Coursera’s existing partners. It also provides advice and feedback on a range of strategic policy decisions, from Terms of Service changes, to content development, to business model adjustments.
Our UAB is composed of nine members at any given time and operates on a three year cycle, wherein three members are rotated off each year, and three new members are welcomed on board for a three year term. This marks our first rotation.
“Having come from an academic background, my co-founder Andrew and I are keenly aware of the value of the opinions of our peers and we are fortunate to have not only their expertise but their support in this endeavour to change education on a global scale,” said Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller. “We welcome our new advisors, and appreciate the continued support from our current advisors: Patrick Aebischer, President of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; Rafael Bras, Provost of Georgia Institute of Technology; Martha Pollack, Provost of University of Michigan; Vincent Price, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania; and Margaret Sheil, Provost of The University of Melbourne.”
A few weeks ago we had a company-wide Make-a-Thon. What happens when you give a bunch of Coursera employees free reign to create something inspired by their daily work? A music video is born.
As an ode to more than 5.6 million Courserians around the world, we poured our hearts (and musical abilities) into this video of pop star Katy Perry’s new song, “Birthday.”
The video was written, directed, edited, and produced by Coursera employees (with the help of some AMAZING Courserians who submitted their dancing videos from countries like Brazil, Spain, China, Bangladesh, UK and US)!
The video offers a sneak peek behind the scenes here at Coursera. We have a new office space and our team of passionate individuals is devoted to having fun while supporting our mission - to change the world by helping to advance worldwide education.
2013 has been an incredible year for us at Coursera, and we wanted to share our thanks with you. It’s time to celebrate… and get funky. Feel free to share the fun and as always, learn, learn, learn!
Part of scaling our work means growing our own team to support partnerships, services and products, which means we’re hiring! Check out our Careers page for current opportunities. We’re a smart, creative and passionate bunch tackling challenging problems on the way toward creating education for everyone.
Last week we reached some major milestones within our community, which now surpasses more than 100 institutional partners, 5 million students, 700 professors, and 500 courses. Such growth could not have happened without the hard work, dedication, and passion of our teams.
As we continue to scale our company to support broader growth, we’d like to acknowledge an internal milestone as well with the hiring of Jessica Neal, our company’s first VP. Jessica will be critical to our recruiting and HR efforts, and will play a key role in helping us build up Coursera’s team and culture so that we can, in turn, build better products and experiences for students.
Jessica comes to us from Netflix where she spent more than 7 years and was most recently the VP of Talent and Talent Acquisition. While at Netflix, she built the internal recruiting team that scaled the organization from a DVD by mail service to an innovative and successful video streaming platform. Later, she took on the important role of Human Resources to support employees and leaders across the company. In addition to driving company growth, Jessica was also instrumental in evolving the company culture. Jessica got her start in recruiting as a head-hunter at an agency focused on placing technical talent, after receiving a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts.
Read on to hear from Jessica herself about what drew her to Coursera and what she hopes to accomplish in her first days at the company.
What led you to join Coursera?I was ready for a new challenge, and found myself inspired by Coursera’s mission, its core team of employees, and the fact that the company is truly doing really innovative work within education, a field with major impact and great potential for advancement through technology.
Coursera has also identified within the company a core set of values that I can really relate to - including putting students first and caring for teammates. It’s a culture of passion-driven work, support, and collaboration, and it aligns nicely with the philosophy that, if you have a culture that enables people to be successful and lead initiatives they believe in, this in turn affects your company’s success. In the case of Coursera, it will allow us to better achieve our goals of educating the world, and is a great foundation to build the company upon in the coming months.
What would you define as Coursera’s culture?At Coursera, you have a nice intersection of intelligence and passion. There’s a strong drive and hunger among employees to do amazing things and change the world. Every person that I’ve met here has inspired me not just with their talent but with the way that they care for the company and each other.
What are your priorities at Coursera?We’re rapidly growing our teams to build better products, support partners and faculty, and give students better experiences, which means we’re looking in all directions.
One thing that I think will make Coursera really attractive to prospective employees is that we offer an incredible opportunity to tackle complex problems. We’re creating a platform for delivering education that simply didn’t exist two years ago and we’re constantly experimenting to make it better. For our engineers this means focusing on challenging technical problems, while for others working on product and design, it might mean trying to figure out how to create an online education experience that works as well for someone in a remote area with limited access to computer as it does for someone here in Mountain View.
We’re thrilled to have Jessica here to help our team grow. If you find yourself interested in specific job opportunities, please check out our Careers page.
In celebration of the triple milestone, we’ve created an infographic that highlights the extraordinary growth of Coursera and our community. Thank you to everyone who has joined us along the way, and welcome to all those who are joining us for the first time.
Coursera Co-Founder Andrew Ng shared his reflections on this exciting day:
“Two years ago, Coursera was still a budding idea. My team comprising four Stanford students and me had just launched our first two courses, each of which eventually reached over 100,000 students, thus helping kick off the MOOC movement. When we first put these courses online, we could not have envisioned the growth and community response that we witness today, among universities, professors, and students from every corner of the globe.”
Adding to this, Co-Founder Daphne Koller expressed:
“We are privileged to host this vast breadth of amazing courses across a broad range of disciplines from many of the world’s leading institutions. It is remarkable that such a powerful network has developed just 18 months since the official launch of our company. With so many countries, languages, and educational backgrounds represented, we are proud to be a part of a movement promoting lifelong education for everyone.”