Coursera has come a long way since we launched our first courses in 2012, and none of our progress would have been possible without the amazing instructors who teach on our platform. We’re continually inspired by the energy and creativity that these individuals – many of them top experts in their fields – bring to teaching online, and by the tireless effort that they put into creating great experiences for Coursera learners.
Our annual Outstanding Educator Awards recognize just a few of these instructors and the impact they’ve had on learners around the world. Awards are given in three categories: Transformation, Innovation, and Learners First. We’re delighted to announce this year’s winners. Read on to learn more about their contributions – and of course, we also highly recommend checking out their courses on Coursera.
Transformation Award Winner
Professor Madhu Viswanathan, University of Illinois College of Business, instructor of Understanding Subsistence Marketplaces.
Since its launch on Coursera in 2014, Understanding Subsistence Marketplaces has had profound transformational effects on learners and communities around the world. Forty percent of the course’s enrollments are by learners in emerging economies, and many of these learners have applied lessons from the course to create positive change on a local, regional, and even national scale.
For example, one learner is using the understanding she gained about subsistence marketplaces to create women’s health curricula and distribute sanitary pads in rural India. A group of four women in Honduras are starting a business to help children access higher education in that country, using recycled plastic and fabric to make bags and aprons to raise money for tuition assistance. And a CEO of a rice company in West Africa is using the course to link farmers with developing markets.
Professor Viswanathan’s course and his work in subsistence marketplaces have inspired thousands of individuals to create sustainable jobs and enhance the welfare of people and communities in poverty-stricken areas of the world. He has been recognized for his efforts by numerous awards, and his model has been adopted by the United Nations Relief Center in working with refugees.
Innovation Award Winners
Dr. Simon McIntyre and Dr. Negin Mirriahi, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, instructors of Learning to Teach Online.
Learning to Teach Online is unique in its level of personalization, and in its invitation to the learner to customize their own educational journey. Through online surveys, learners evaluate their own understanding of and interest in a range of online teaching practices’ they are then provided with targeted resource recommendations to help them develop their knowledge and skills.
The instructors have also iterated extensively on the course materials in response to learner feedback. Dr.s McIntyre and Mirriahi worked together to create weekly videos responding to popular questions in the forums, and have used analytics and learner reviews to steadily improve the course experience.
Learning to Teach Online was included in U.S. President Obama’s 2015 ConnectEd program of continuing education accreditation – the only course from an Australian university to be included. It was also included in the Trinidad and Tobago government’s Knowledge TT program to enhance local learning opportunities. The course won three awards at the 2015 Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards, in the categories Regional Oceania, Arts and Humanities, and Nurturing Employability. Several other universities and organisations have used the course as a professional development tool for their staff, including La Trobe University, Melbourne, University of Leiden, Netherlands and Handicap International, France.
Learners First Award Winner
Professor Dr. Sjoerd Douma, Faculty of Law, Leiden University International Tax Center and instructor of Rethinking International Tax Law.
“Learners First” is a simple principle that guides our work at Coursera – a reminder that, at the end of the day, it’s our direct impact on learners that matters most. Our Learners First award honors the instructor(s) who best exemplify the “Learners First” principle, as demonstrated by a combination of course ratings and course completions.
Out of over 2,000 courses on Coursera, Leiden University Professor Sjoerd Douma’s course Rethinking International Tax Law stood out as delivering a uniquely engaging and high-quality experience that learners love. This six-week course developed with the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University “provides learners with the tools to become fully informed participants in the [international tax strategy] debate by explaining the foundations and practice of international tax law as well as addressing current developments and the ethical aspects of tax planning.”
Professor Douma’s impact on learners is apparent in the course’s ratings and reviews. One learner shared this reflection:
International taxation principles initially seemed too complicated for me to understand. This has to a greater extent been demystified and I have the confidence that I can deliver great results…It is for this reason that I have decided to take on international taxation as a career path.
And another commented:
…focusing on the issues and ways that global enterprises have benefited from weak tax treaties and domestic laws is an eye-opener. Every politician elected to public office should take this course.
Congratulations to all four of our 2017 award winners – and heartfelt thank-you to every instructor on Coursera for your dedication and profound contributions to transforming the lives of learners around the world.