Coursera: Widespread Career and Educational Impact of Open Online Courses for Indians

Technuter writes: New Delhi, India, September 29, 2015: Coursera, in partnership with researchers at University of Pennsylvania and University of Washington, has released the results of a first ever survey revealing the self-reported outcomes for learners on Coursera, the largest open online education platform with 15 million registered learners worldwide. The survey aimed to understand the motivations and results for people who complete open online courses. The results come nearly four years after many of the world’s top universities began joining Coursera and other platforms to offer courses online available to learners of all means, inspiring enrolments of more than 100,000 people in a single course.

The survey results reveal that the vast majority of learners who complete open online courses are reporting both career advancement (72%) and educational advancement (61%). Indian learners have reported a slightly higher career (82%) and educational (76%) benefit than the global average. These reported outcomes were even greater among learners who cited career or educational advancement (respectively) as their primary motivation for enrolling in online courses. Moreover, learners from lower socioeconomic status (SES), from emerging economies, and those without a bachelor’s degree reported the greatest impact, proving that open online education empowers people of all backgrounds. For example, 50% of Indians seeking to advance their careers reported improved candidacy for a new job (versus 43% globally). 30% of Indians seeking to advance their education reported improved admissions to academic programs (versus 17% globally).

The survey was divided into two core groups of learners categorized by their primary motivations: “career builders” and “education seekers.”

The Career Builders

  • 53% of learners overall identified as career builders, citing career advancement as their primary reason for taking online courses.
  • 90% of career builders in India saw benefits such as improving candidacy for a new position or becoming better equipped for a current job, better than global average of 87%.
  • 58% of career builders in India became better equipped for their current job
  • 36% of career builders in India saw tangible benefits like receiving a pay raise, a promotion, a new job or starting a new business.
  • Those who chose to earn a Course Certificate were more likely to report tangible career benefits (39% versus 31%), indicating the growing value of online education credentials.
  • Career builders were more likely to see benefits if they had no bachelor’s degree or were from lower SES brackets or emerging economies.

The Education Seekers

  • 35% of learners in India are looking to further their education
  • 28% of learners identified as education seekers worldwide, whereas approximately 35% in India cited educational advancement as their primary reason for taking online courses.
  • 91% of education seekers in India saw benefits like building knowledge in their current field of study, deciding on a new field, refreshing concepts before going back to school, or even improving college admissions; slightly higher than global average of 88%
  • 68% of education seekers in India gained knowledge essential to a field of study and 51% were able to identify their field of study
  • 33%% in India saw tangible benefits like receiving credit or fulfilling prerequisites towards an academic degree, nearly double of global average of 18%.
  • 30% of Indian learners are likely to report improved admissions to academic programs, the highest amongst other nations.
  • As with career builders, education seekers benefitting the most were from lower SES brackets and emerging economies.

“This data suggests that by completing online courses, the least well-off students can secure important career and educational benefits,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, a researcher on the study. “The big challenge is to ensure more disadvantaged learners and more learners in developing countries can have the computers and internet access needed to fully utilize these online courses for career growth and academic pursuits.”

“While the majority of people completing MOOCs remain those from OECD countries and those with college degrees, it is very encouraging that learners with less advantages are more likely to report career and educational benefits from MOOCs,” said Gayle Christensen, Assistant Vice Provost at the University of Washington, another researcher on the study.

This survey was completed in December 2014 targeting any learner who was three or more months past completing at least one Coursera course. Researchers received 51,954 survey responses from learners in 212 countries and territories. The male/female breakdown was 59/41, the most common age range was 26-35, and 57.6% designated full time employment. The top countries represented were the United States, China, India and Brazil.

Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and President of Coursera, said, “We founded Coursera nearly four years ago with a vision of transforming lives by expanding access to the world’s best education, thereby opening doors to opportunity. With this survey, we are beginning to see the positive impact our courses already had on so many people around the globe and especially in India, where learners disproportionately reported impressive outcomes in their careers and educational paths. As India increases broadband penetration, we hope to further increase the pace of growth in the market and reach more Indians who can benefit from access to a great education.”

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