Special Reports

Coursera’s Daphne Koller On Online Education – Part 1


Coursera is one of the first to revolutionize education and learning by offering free courses online. The education platform aims to "provide universal access to the world's best education."

The website is co-founded by Daphne Koller along with Andrew Ng. For 18 years, she worked as the Rajeev Motwani Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. She was also recognized as TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in 2010 and was one of Newsweek's 10 most important people in 2010.

In a TED talk, Koller described how opportunities came to her because she was able to attend some of the best universities. She also noted how people in different parts of the world do not have this type of privilege.

"In South Africa, the educational system was constructed in the days of apartheid for the white minority," she said. "And as a consequence, today there is just not enough spots for the many more people who want and deserve a high quality education."

Koller also spoke up about the rising cost of higher education, which has increased at almost twice its rate for a total of 559 percent since 1985. This has made education unaffordable for a lot of people.

Coursera aims to make education attainable by the masses. Suddenly, it was possible to get a Stanford-quality course for free.

Koller talked about the Machine Learning class offered by Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, which has 400 people enrolled every time it's offered. Moreover, when Mr. Ng taught that course to the general public, 100,000 people registered for it.

There are currently 43 courses on the educational platform from four universities with various disciplines. Since it was launched in February, the site has gained 640,000 students from 190 countries.

The Coursera president shared stories of online students who benefited so much from online education. One was named Akash, who resides in a small town in India and who could never have afforded the Stanford-quality course.

Another was Jenny, a single mother who wants to develop her skills so that she can go back to school and complete her master's degree. Lastly, there was Ryan, who couldn't leave the house for fear of bringing in germs from the outside that could infect his immune deficient daughter. Now, Ryan has a job and his daughter is doing much better.

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