By Betty Vandenbosch, Coursera’s Chief Content Officer
I was delighted to have the opportunity to host our 10th annual Coursera Conference. Our virtual platform made it possible to bring together a truly global community. All told, 3,156 participants from 2,111 organizations representing 149 countries were able to attend, and we were thrilled to welcome 132 partner organizations representing 34 countries.
Over the course of two days, we heard from more than 90 expert voices from 40 institutions and 15 countries. Together, we explored new opportunities for the future of learning and work in a digital world. As I reflect on the keynotes, fireside chats, and breakout sessions, I am reminded that pathways to careers were at the core of the conference.
In her keynote, Mia Amor Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, outlined how e-learning can provide opportunities to learners around the globe and highlighted the critical role online education can play for the developing world—particularly during times of crisis. She challenged us to be the catalyst for change and do all we can to help those who have found themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda presented a compelling array of facts demonstrating the impact our work is having on the educational and economic health of our global community and highlighted the increasing importance of our partnerships as we work together to expand access to world-class learning.
Jeff also announced new degrees and credentials from leading universities to train people for jobs of the future. Among the partners making this possible are premier Indian universities including Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Management Indore, Indian Institute of Science, and International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore. Two new master’s degree programs from top-ranked universities in India, the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, will help prepare learners for in-demand careers. Three postgraduate programs from the Indian School of Business and Macquarie University will help learners advance in business and management and offer a chance to complete graduate-level learning from world-class institutions without committing to a full degree program. And, ten university-issued certificates from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, and the University of Colorado Boulder, that generally take six months or less to complete, will help learners develop expertise in a specific field. Finally, in addition to academic partnerships, industry leaders including Accenture, ADP, Campus BBVA, Coinbase, Genentech, Goodwill, Hero Mindmine, HR Certification Institute (HRCI), PwC India, SAP, and Tally Education will help expand our catalog of high-quality, job-relevant content.
During the Product Innovation session, our team announced a suite of new offerings and platform improvements to boost learner engagement, reduce time and complexity to author content, and help businesses, universities, and governments provide timely, accessible learning at scale. Here are a few that I am very excited about:
- Career Academy gives any business, government, or academic institution the ability to offer individuals—even those with no college degree or prior work experience—an opportunity to learn the skills to enter a high-demand, entry-level digital job. Learners can access a full suite of Entry-Level Professional Certificates, practice their skills with Guided Projects, and explore career pathways and essential information on in-demand roles.
- Self-service content migration from edX/Open edX and Canvas increases efficiency and ease of content authoring. During the pilot stages, our university partner Dartmouth College was able to seamlessly move more than 30 courses from edX to the Coursera platform with minimal effort from its program staff.
- Adjustable and data-driven deadlines, scheduled nudges, and AI-generated lecture summaries work to better serve more than 100 Million learners on the Coursera platform and encourage them to continue with their learning journey.
- Upgrades to our grading and assessment features now support awarding extra credit, viewing item history, and deterring plagiarism through text similarity scoring.
In our visionary panel, we learned how two university partners are collaborating to create degree pathways between institutions for the first time on Coursera. Students who graduate from the University of London’s online Bachelor of Science in Marketing or online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration will have a preferred admissions pathway into the University of Illinois’ online Master’s of Management degree—creating a seamless path for lifelong learning. The University of Illinois discussed plans to expand the pathway to other Gies online graduate programs, including the Master’s of Business Administration, Master’s of Science in Accountancy, and stackable Graduate Certificates.
To mark Coursera’s 10th anniversary, we took time to reflect on and celebrate what we have accomplished together as a community of innovative educators, and the impact we have had on learners across the globe. Coursera Chief Marketing Officer Kim Caldbeck led a discussion with CEO Jeff Maggioncalda, our former CEO Rick Levin, and Coursera’s founders, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, that explored milestones from the past 10 years—from that first Stanford course, through collaboration and innovation and Coursera’s international expansion, to the stackable learning and collaborations with partners, businesses, and governments that define us today and make us excited about the future.
A perennial favorite at Conference is the Outstanding Achievement Award Ceremony, hosted by Andrew Ng. This year we had the opportunity to recognize and celebrate six recipients for their work to advance our shared mission of expanding access to world-class learning. Sungkyunkwan University received the Learner’s First Award for their A Bridge to the World: Korean Language for Beginners course, which introduces learners to the language and culture of Korea. Google received the Career Transformation award for their UX Design Certification, which takes learners with no background in UX design through all the fundamental skills to become a UX designer. The University of Colorado Boulder received the Innovation award for their Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization, which provides a pathway into their innovative degree program. For helping its employees achieve extraordinary success and career growth through the power of online learning, Capgemini received the Talent Transformation award. Ghandi Institute of Technology and Management received the Campus Transformation award for enabling over 20,000 students across three campuses and nine departments to quickly go online during the height of the pandemic. And, the New York State Department of Labor received the Government Innovation award for deploying an accessible training solution that provides health and wellness training, foundational skills, technical certifications, and job readiness training to communities hardest hit by the shutdown. Please join me in congratulating all the award recipients.
Recordings for most of the sessions can be found under the session description on the agenda page of the event website. I encourage you to watch the sessions that interest you and share the recordings with your colleagues.
When I think about all the comments and conversations, I see unprecedented promise for a future with more equal opportunities than we’ve ever seen before. During the conference, we witnessed how this future is taking shape on Coursera today. There is no doubt in my mind about how important our work is. It’s powerful and life-changing. At the end of the day, learners and employers will tell us what they need. We must be bold, willing to experiment, and consistently looking for ways to innovate. Most importantly, we must work together.
I would like to thank our presenters, panelists, and participants for their time and their contributions. It was a wonderful experience for me. For those who were able to join us, I hope you had a great time and will come back next year. For those who were unable to join us, I hope you’ll watch the videos and join us next year.