by Alexandra Urban (Teaching & Learning Specialist) and Victoria Zheng (Growth Engineer)
Earlier this month, we carved out time from our day jobs and doubled down on our value of Betterment to focus on employee-driven projects to improve Coursera: in other words, we ran our eleventh Make-a-Thon! Throughout this week-long event, we work diligently to brainstorm innovative solutions and learn new skills to make our projects a reality. Coursera’s mission of providing universal access to the world’s best learning experience is a lofty goal and requires constant creativity, problem-solving, and bold ideas to drive us towards helping all learners around the world.
In particular, this was the first Make-a-Thon where teams had 5 full days to work on their project. In total, nearly 40 different projects were explored by more than 100 Coursera employees, with participants ranging from engineers, product leads, and designers to marketing experts, content strategists, and partnership managers.
At the end of the week, we let each team explain the merits of their project through an interactive Demo Fair, much like a Science Fair. Then, through electronic voting, we grant Value Awards to the top projects of the week. Here’s an overview of our winners from Make-a-Thon Eleven:
Boldness: (a tie!) Cred Your Skills – enabling learners to gain credentials for their existing skills, as well as, Coursera VR – prototype of a VR classroom experience on our platform
Deep Honesty: The Value of Free – experiments to try to measure the impact of leveraging our free content
Solidarity: Coursera Commutes – survey and brainstorming about improving commutes
Betterment: ctrl-alt-complete – a pipeline for automatically generating image alt text for greater content accessibility
Through this week designed specifically for innovative projects, we can keep our teams, products, and processes iterating forward. Without new ideas and time to explore them, how are we going to reach all learners and transform their lives through the power of high-quality online education? The Make-a-Thon reminds us what a unique opportunity Coursera provides and how lucky we are to be part of a team so focused on improvement. If you’re interested in joining our team, please check out our Careers page – we are growing rapidly and would love your help in realizing our bold mission!11