Coursera enrolment in Singapore soars

The number of Singaporeans enrolling in Coursera courses has almost tripled in the last three years - from 52,000 in 2013 to 140,000 so far this year.

They are among the 16 million people worldwide plugged into the online learning channel, which took off about three years ago.

Coursera offers 1,400 courses with 134 university partners including Brown and Princeton.

These mostly free courses consist of video lectures, interactive quizzes and peer-graded assignments. Coursera has also started about 80 specialisation programmes, which are a series of bundled modules. Users may pay up to US$500 (S$710) to earn certification for these programmes.

Learners can earn certification for courses, and there is aid for those who cannot afford the fees.

Mr Roberto Tan, 43, who took a specialisation course on data science offered by Johns Hopkins University, likes the flexibility of online learning.

"I can download the videos and watch them and complete the quizzes at my own pace. I can also repeat certain parts if I'm not clear," said Mr Tan, who works in an information technology firm.

Content is uploaded weekly, and he chose to take his virtual classes every Saturday evening for four to five hours on his laptop at home.

He finished the year-long course, which cost about US$500, in August and earned a certificate from the university.

The course, which attracted about 350 people, was funded partially by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.

About 60 per cent of the applicants had at least five years of work experience.

Mr Tan hopes to take more courses in topics such as marketing and business management. "I definitely want to explore more on Coursera. There are so many other courses out there," he said, adding: "It's good to expand your knowledge not necessarily with grades or certificates in mind."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Coursera enrolment in Singapore soars'. Print Edition | Subscribe