Hundreds of educators, employers, and members from the Coursera team as well as a few students gathered together at Arizona State University for the sixth annual Coursera Partners Conference. Our conference theme — Learners First: Beyond the Campus Walls — brought us together to work toward a future where anyone, anywhere can transform their life through access to the world’s best education.
For two days we discussed best practices for creating top quality, in-demand, and affordable online learning experiences while we looked ahead to online education’s role in helping learners adapt to a rapidly changing world. We are grateful for all of the partners who have joined us on this journey. We left Arizona full of inspiration, and we hope you did too.
Highlights from day one:
We welcomed Sean Gallagher, founder and Executive Director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, and Executive Professor of Educational Policy, to share insights from his recent book, The Future of University Credentials: New Developments at the Intersection of Higher Education and Hiring.
Coursera’s CEO Jeff Maggioncalda followed with a keynote about how Coursera and its partners are reaching beyond the campus walls to reach learners wherever they are to provide learning experiences that lead to transformational outcomes. In his keynote, Jeff also announced six new degree programs as well as a new MasterTrack™ Certificate pilot to continue building degrees and credentials for today’s learners.
Leaders from Coursera’s product team including Product Directors Jen Mazzon and Kapeesh Saraf, Principal Product Designer Chris Palmatier, and Head of Data Science Emily Glassberg Sands recapped how the platform grew to serve new populations of learners in 2017. They also unveiled some exciting new features coming in 2018 to help instructors and course teams create content more easily and efficiently. The data science team also shared some news about new data tools that help partners see the impact they’re having through the Coursera for Business channel. They also announced the availability of tools will show how learners are progressing through individual courses through a new course progress funnel. Many of these resources are available right now, so don’t hesitate to dive in and use them!
Later in the afternoon, leaders from some of Coursera’s most innovative partners including Tom Katsouleas from the University of Virginia, Simone Buitendijk from Imperial College London, Andreas Cangellaris from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and Mark Searle from Arizona State University came together in a Provost Forum where they discussed how the themes and topics discussed at the conference related to their institutions.
Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow capped off a great first day with a special welcome reception, acknowledging the importance of scaling access to education and how success is measured not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include and help succeed.
Highlights from Day Two:
Mariam Kakkar, Chief of the Talent Development Unit at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), shared a compelling overview of how the UNDP is building robust learning programs to support employees throughout the organization.
Larry DeBrock, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance at the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, shared his journey from teaching for more than 39 years in large lecture classrooms to teaching online in the iMBA program.
Coursera’s co-founder Andrew Ng closed out the conference with a motivating message about the hope that this community is bringing to learners around the world in an era of rapid changes brought about by artificial intelligence and automation. He also celebrated the winners of Coursera’s third annual Outstanding Educator Awards:
- Dr. Yvonne Breyer, Macquarie University instructor of the Excel Skills for Business Specialization, winner of the Transformation Award
- Christopher Brooks, Kevyn Collins-Thompson, Daniel Romero, and V. G. Vinod Vydiswaran, University of Michigan instructors of the Applied Data Science in Python Specialization, winners of the Innovation Award
- Dr. Alan Kazdin, Yale University instructor of Everyday Parenting, winner of the Learners First Award.
Throughout both days, we were also delighted to offer breakout sessions across four tracks:
- Instructor Track: In this track, our instructor community gathered to share best practices and discuss topics including innovations in pedagogy, reaching global learners, teaching for social impact, creating engagement in online learning communities, marketing, and blended learning. See the top takeaways from this year’s Instructor Track→
- Course Teams Track: This track included breakout sessions that focused on topics such as the challenges of scaling production with a limited budget, best practices for working within complex institutional dynamics, and how to leverage innovative teaching and learning tools.
- Data Track: This track included a full schedule of discussions dedicated to supercharging the power of online learning through data. Participants also enjoyed opportunities to get hands-on experience with the latest analytics, raw data, and tooling offered by Coursera. See the top takeaways from this year’s Data Track→
- Administrator Track: This track, focused primarily on online strategy, featured insights from the Coursera team and experienced partner representatives about how to achieve key institutional or organizational goals through online learning. See the top takeaways from this year’s Administrator Track→
From all of us at Coursera, and from thousands of learners around the world, we would like to sincerely thank the hundreds of educators who make it possible for us to transform lives through learning.