By Kapeesh Saraf, Director of Product Management & Claire Smith, Community Manager
Coursera was founded to help anyone, anywhere transform their life through access to the world’s best education. We’ve always known that education is more than just content – that the most effective learning experiences include discussion and debate, and that sometimes you need real-time support from an expert to get unstuck.
Since even the most enthusiastic instructors can’t engage, debate, and un-stick thousands of learners around the world every day, we’ve looked to the wider Coursera community to provide that support. The Coursera Mentor program is the backbone of that effort, and we’re thrilled to announce that that program is growing! By the end of 2016, we’re aiming to ensure that the majority of learners have a Mentor in their course. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect to see from these amazing community leaders in the next few months!
Who are Coursera Mentors?
Coursera Mentors are learners who volunteer to provide academic support in courses they’ve already completed on Coursera. To be eligible to be a Mentor, a learner must have passed the course with a good grade and an exemplary forum participation record. Mentors also complete a 2-week training course that covers best practices for explaining concepts, giving feedback, encouraging discussion, and using forum moderation tools to maintain a safe, fun, and productive atmosphere in the course forums.
We now have more than 700 active Mentors in over 300 courses, and we’re adding more almost every day! To meet a few of these exceptional individuals, visit our Community Blog.
What kind of support do Mentors provide?
Mentors spend most of their time answering questions and sharing resources in the course forums. To give you a sense of their impact – in just the month of July, Mentors responded to more than 17,500 forum posts and started over 600 forum threads across Coursera. Our most active Mentors have posted in the forums hundreds of times; in courses with Mentors, almost 60 percent of forum posts receive a response within 24 hours.
As the Mentor program grows, we’ve added tools to help Mentors work more efficiently and effectively. For example, all Mentors now receive a daily digest of forum activity in their course, which highlights popular threads that haven’t yet received a Mentor response. We’ve also added more links to the forums throughout course pages, to help learners navigate more easily to the great advice that Mentors are providing.
What motivates Mentors to help out?
Mentors have told us that they have a variety of reasons for volunteering their time, including keeping skills and knowledge fresh, adding experience to their resumes, and helping other learners master a topic they’re passionate about. We’re continually working to make their experience more rewarding – Mentors can now receive LinkedIn badges for participating in the program, and we’ve added Mentor names and profile photos to the forum home page as a reminder to learners to look to them for reliable answers and thank them for their support.
What’s next for the Mentor program?
First and foremost, growth! We’re adding Mentors to more courses on an ongoing basis, and we’re working to ensure that the majority of learners on Coursera have access to Mentor support by the end of this year. As the program grows, we’re also empowering Mentors to take on new roles and responsibilities – such as creating FAQ pages, overseeing peer reviews, and actively fostering community by posting discussion prompts on a regular schedule.
Interested in becoming a Mentor?
You can learn more about how Mentors are selected on our Community Blog.