Ten years ago, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng launched Coursera with a mission of making world-class education available to anyone, anywhere. As we celebrate the incredible learners, partners, employees, and institutions that make up the global Coursera community, we want to pause and reflect on some of the key moments we’ve shared along a journey that is still only just beginning!
2012 – Launching Coursera with our founding partners
On August 16, 2011, a group of professors at Stanford University announced their intent to offer three massive open online courses to the public. In a matter of weeks, more than 100,000 learners had enrolled in each of these courses—more students than any of the professors could hope to teach in an entire lifetime. They came from every age group, every country, and every walk of life.
It was clear that this was an amazing opportunity to help millions of people around the world get access to a great education. So two of these professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, launched Coursera with founding partners Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and Princeton.
The journey had begun!
2013 – An early learner finds the confidence to pursue new goals
Meet Karen! She is a registered nurse working at a school in Wisconsin, and she was one of the earliest learners on Coursera. In 2013, she was looking to update her medical knowledge while pursuing a new full-time role, and fortunately for us, she turned to Coursera. She went on to complete a variety of health-related courses from the University of Colorado, Johns Hopkins University, and more. And, that’s not all! “After successfully completing online courses on Coursera,” she says, “I gained the courage to start a master’s degree.” One of the guest lecturers in her Foundations for Global Health Responders course was from the University of London, and that’s how she discovered the MSc in Global Health Policy.
“I took a chance and applied to their Master’s program, and lo and behold — I got accepted! Now I’m working towards finishing a major accomplishment: my advanced degree.”
2014 – An early employee reflects on 8 years (and counting!) of community, values, and progress
“My name is Currin Berdine, and I joined Coursera in 2014. It’s wonderful to see Coursera remain so steadfast after all these years. We continue to live our principle to always learn and grow, as instilled in us by our founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. In the last eight years, I’ve gone from being the team’s first marketing hire to the marketing team’s first full-time web and email developer, and my managers have always trusted me and encouraged me to grow. Along the way, I’ve taken courses on Coursera to build my skills, learning alongside the people I serve.
Another part of Coursera that remains unchanged is—as if by some magnetic force—our ability to attract the most caring and talented teammates. Every day I am impressed by my colleagues’ beautiful work, impressive smarts, heart, and genuine kindness for each other. To any Courserian reading this: you are amazing, and I love working with you!
I’m incredibly proud and grateful to work at Coursera, and I look forward to the years ahead as we continue to fulfill our mission to deliver the world’s best education to everyone.
Since 2014, I have seen Coursera go from offering hundreds of courses to literally thousands, and I’ve watched as our partner community has grown to include industry giants and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I’ve seen our team grow from dozens of employees in a tiny office in Mountain View, California, to over a thousand employees connected around the world. And I’ve cheered as our enrollment numbers have surpassed more than 194 million enrollments across the globe.”
Continue reading more of Currin’s reflections here.
2015 – Learners embrace new ways to build job-ready skills
With the launch of Specializations in 2015, learners on Coursera had a new way to master topics, deepen their knowledge, and advance their careers. The first Specialization on Coursera was Johns Hopkins University’s Data Science Specialization. Benjamin Daniel was one of the earliest learners to enroll. As it would turn out, that was only the beginning of Benjamin’s Coursera journey!
“Coursera allowed me to make a foray into marketing analytics and data science. As I discovered more about data science, I realized it was the missing part of my career. Filling this void has allowed me to create more insightful, value-added solutions and develop an analytic belief system that has changed the way I see the world. Approximately two years after completing the Johns Hopkins Data Science Specialization, I decided to go back to graduate school for a Master of Science in Analytics at Georgia Tech. I worked full-time while pursuing this degree. I doubt that I could have tackled a rigorous graduate degree in analytics if I had not had the certificate training in data science, not to mention the experience of online learning, through the Coursera platform.” – Benjamin D.
2016 – A top university partners with Coursera to launch a groundbreaking new opportunity
In 2016, the University of Illinois partnered with Coursera to bring a world-class degree program online. The inaugural “iMBA” offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Gies College of Business was designed to be a flexible, fully online MBA program where students could earn the exact same credential as their on-campus counterparts, and choose just what they need—whether it’s a full degree, a certificate, or courses for credit. More than 2,600 students have since graduated from this program, representing more than 90 countries and 48 states.
“People of all backgrounds and life histories deserve a chance to earn the education they need to succeed in their lives.” —Daphne Koller, co-founder, Coursera
Farhad is a learner from Afghanistan who enrolled in the iMBA, and as he describes below, access to this kind of program online was transformational for his life and career:
“In Afghanistan, where I’m from, there’s little opportunity to grow your skills at your workplace. As someone who’s been working in the development sector for over seven years, I’ve noticed that one of the biggest challenges in developing countries is access to quality education. Having a good quality education in Afghanistan is very, very hard. After I enrolled in the iMBA program, I was given the opportunity to contribute to important decision-making processes at the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, where I applied my new leadership and business skills.
For me, the iMBA gave me freedom when I felt trapped—I was trapped in a locality in Afghanistan that didn’t allow me to get a quality education and advance in my career. Coursera and the University of Illinois mean a lot to me because they offered me that access. Applying for an international, on-campus degree required me to go through the visa process and the application process, and then still get rejected at the end. But the iMBA provided me with the key to quality education without any of those obstacles.”
2017 – Governments and businesses expand access to world-class learning for their communities and employees
With technological and economic change happening at an increasingly rapid pace, concern over widening skills gaps was growing. People had to build new skills if they were to succeed in the rapidly evolving digital economy, and companies were increasingly in need of skilled talent.
Governments were on the front lines trying to address these challenges, and with the launch of Coursera for Government, their communities had a new way to prepare for the jobs of the future.
Today, Coursera partners with governments in more than 25 US states and more than 100 countries worldwide. The Abu Dhabi School of Government is one of the partners who is providing employees with access to skill-building online courses:
“ADSG aims to embed a culture of continuous learning across all levels of the Abu Dhabi government. We seek to empower government employers to be curious, knowledge-seeking learners that understand how to interpret the data available to them and build the necessary skills in their sector.” – Her Excellency Alia Abdulla Al Mazrouei, Acting Director-General of the Abu Dhabi School of Government
Businesses have also been driving innovation by investing in their employees. Over 3,100 companies, including those like Adobe, are finding new ways to retain talent and equip them for the future with tailored learning programs through Coursera for Business:
“With a greater understanding of what AI can do through Coursera coursework, engineers can think of new ways to incorporate Adobe’s AI and machine learning technology into our products and bring new features to customers faster.” – Tim Converse, Sr. Director of Applied Machine Learning at Adobe
2018 – Google turns to Coursera to help expand access to real-world skills
According to Burning Glass, IT support roles have an average entry-level salary of $50,875, with 340,555 open roles in the US alone. To make these well-paying jobs within reach for more people, we partnered with Google to launch the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. In the Google Professional Certificate program, learners build real-world skills through hands-on labs designed by industry experts. Today, thousands of people around the globe are getting job-ready for in-demand, entry-level roles such as project manager, UX designer, data analyst, and more. Still, with over 840,000+ enrollments to date, the Google IT Support Professional Certificate remains not just the first, but also the most popular Professional Certificate program on Coursera.
Yvonne is one of many learners who discovered new possibilities for her life and career through the Google IT program. Her journey has been an incredible one, and while she’s always made the most of every opportunity, she’s also faced some daunting challenges along the way. These challenges include undergoing 23 surgeries and a permanent tracheostomy, all while caring for her five children and ensuring they receive college educations. After her children graduated, Yvonne decided to follow her passion for technology into a new career. Today, she’s working remotely as a Motion Planning Operation Specialist for an autonomous vehicle company. Read her full story.
2019 – More industry leaders like IBM and SAS expand access to job-ready skills with new Professional Certificates
Following the success of Google’s initial launch, we were able to expand our portfolio of Professional Certificate programs thanks to partners like IBM and SAS. Every Professional Certificate program is mapped to the key skills required for entry-level roles in that field, and learners complete hands-on projects to build confidence and gain real-world experience.
Expert instructors like Rav from IBM are an essential ingredient of these programs. Rav teaches in the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate program:
“Our mission at IBM Skills Network is to democratize in-demand technology skills. We aim to help learners become job-ready for a tremendous amount of opportunities in new collar professions, regardless of their backgrounds. It is fulfilling to be part of a team and Coursera community that makes learning accessible to everyone and enables learners all over the world to become job-ready for in-demand careers in fields like AI, Data Science, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Software Development, and Data Engineering. As an instructor, I feel humbled to have a million learners on Coursera enrolled in my courses to develop competencies for starting and progressing their careers.” – Rav Ahuja, Global Program Director, IBM Skills Network
2020 – Colleges and universities quickly move online with the support of Coursera for Campus
As colleges and universities faced immense and unprecedented disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, together with our partners, we launched the Campus Response Initiative to give students and faculty free access to Coursera for Campus during pandemic-related closures.
“Coursera helped us make a quick online pivot when the Duke Kunshan University campus closed due to the pandemic. Faculty benefited from access to high-quality courseware and students dove right into learning new skills on their own.” – Matthew Rascoff, Former Associate Vice Provost, Digital Education & Innovation at Duke University
Over 3,700 campuses and 3 million students continue to integrate online learning into the campus experience to provide world-class, job-relevant online learning for students, faculty, and staff like Dr. Rohit Ravi:
“I believe that learning should always be an ongoing process, which is why I took time during quarantine to finally tackle topics I’ve been interested in. I’m so happy to share that I have finished 6 courses … and the journey continues! Learning never ends … but excuses can! I thank the Manipal University of Higher Education for collaborating with Coursera to make this possible.” – Dr. Rohit Ravi
2021 – Committing to building a more just world
Confronting educational inequities brought on by COVID-19 required every part of our global community to come together to create opportunity through education.
In 2021, we expanded our partnerships with esteemed universities, including Morehouse, Howard, and IIM Kozhikode, and increased our selection of high-quality courses, certificates, and degrees. These credentials are creating a more inclusive education experience with affordable and flexible pathways for learners all over the world:
“As the field of education transforms dramatically in a post-pandemic world, the IIM Kozhikode and Coursera partnership will provide great value to our domestic and global audiences. Together, we will introduce learners to new and refreshing perspectives as we pursue our motto of globalizing Indian thought and nurturing value-driven, fair-minded individuals.” – Debashis Chatterjee, Director, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode
Receiving B Corp certification in February represented the ongoing strength of our commitment to creating a world where anyone, anywhere has the power to transform their life through learning. As a public B Corp, we are using our resources to reduce barriers to world-class education so learners everywhere can collaborate, learn, and advance together. In March of 2021, we launched a new chapter in our story by becoming a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
As we enter our second decade, we are more energized than ever by our community, our opportunities ahead, and our shared future together.
2022 – Continuing to learn without limits
What the global Coursera community has achieved together over the previous ten years is nothing short of remarkable, yet even as we pause to look back, we know this journey is still in its early days. There are so many impactful opportunities ahead, and building a better and more equitable world will require us all to learn, collaborate, and grow together. From IBM and Google creating pathways to higher education for certificate learners through ACE®️ Credit Recommendation, to Amazon Web Services and higher education coming together to help students build job-ready skills, together, this community is bringing the best learning to every corner of the world.
We continue to be inspired by the stories you have shared—of second chances, new doors opening, and giving back to your communities with newfound skills. Thank you to everyone who continues to show us what it means to learn without limits.
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