Five things to know about online learning platform Coursera

-- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.COURSERA.ORG
-- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.COURSERA.ORG

SINGAPORE - From learning about the material science of volcanic eruptions to the study of comic books and graphic novels, Coursera, an international massive open online course platform, has revolutionised the way students here can learn.

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) went one step further to enhance the online learning experience for its undergraduates. It allowed its students to earn credits that count towards graduation by taking two such courses - An Exploration of Symmetry and Introduction to Forensic Science - on this platform.

Since February, about 1,200 of its undergraduates have completed two courses taught by their university professors on Coursera.

Here are five other things to know about Coursera.

1. What courses does Coursera offer?

There are now 532 courses offered on the popular massive open online course (Mooc) platform. These are offered in the categories of Physics, Arts and Music, Film and Audio, among many others.

2. Who conducts these courses?

Courses are conducted by professors or educators at organisations, usually universities, from all over the world. The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, USA, for instance, conducts online classes in epidemiology and in environmental law and policy.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) also offers three classes on Coursera, ranging from music to philosophy and physics.

3. How many partner institutions does Coursera have?

As of October 2013, Coursera has 107 partner universities offering a wide range of courses. Courses are also taught by some 731 instructors, including three professors from NUS and three from NTU.

4. How does Coursera work?

Coursera's aim is to provide free courses offered by top universities and organisations worldwide for anyone to take. To sign up for a course, create an account with your full name and e-mail address. Once registered, the learning begins. The courses are presented over six to eight weeks and consist of video presentations, exercises, quizzes and peer-to-peer assessment. For some courses, students can also get certificates from the participating university which are verified by Coursera.

5. Who takes these courses?

Most of the students enrolled in courses on Coursera are working full-time. Going by statistics from the online learning platform, 73.3 per cent of its more than five million students have full-time employment. About 19.7 per cent are unemployed while 14.2 per cent have part-time jobs.

audreyt@sph.com.sg