Coursera, founded in 2012 by Stanford University professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, is considered one of the top innovators in the field of online education and MOOCs.

What helps set Coursera apart from the pack is its large catalog of courses, over 400 and counting. Learners can take classes in the humanities, mathematics, social sciences, biology and more.

They partner with top universities to offer universal access to the world’s best education through online courses that are free for everyone. The courses work just like a traditional class. You learn the material, take quizzes, complete peer graded assessments and interact with other students through forums and other mediums.

What Coursera Offers

Currently Coursera has over 400 courses available to take for free online. This includes courses in over 20 different languages. They partner with top universities around the globe like Stanford, Duke and the University of London.

Some categories of courses are: arts, chemistry, education, humanities, law, statistics, medicine and so much more. The courses range in length. Many are ones that you can take and complete at your own pace, but many also have a specified length of time from the professor, starting at 4 weeks. Visit their website to browse the entire courser catalog.

Coursera also offers iOS, Android and Kindle Fire support, allowing you to easily access coursework on your phone or tablet in addition to on your computer.

It is important to note that a majority of Coursera’s courses are not approved for college credit. However, students can purchase verified certificates of course completion to be used as proof of achievement.

Why Coursera Works

Coursera believes that online education is a way to learn better and to learn faster. According to their website, it is for these four key reasons:

  • Effectiveness of Online Learning: they quote the U.S. Department of Education to prove that “classes with online learning (whether taught completely online or blended) on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction.”
  • Mastery Learning: Coursera does not let students move on in their courses until they have fully mastered one topic. This allows the students to gain a full and complete understanding of the topic at hand. They provide immediate feedback about something that is not understood and will randomize quizzes until the topic is understood.
  • Peer Assessments: Online learning does not dissuade students from interacting with their classmates, in fact, Coursera strives for peer interactions by utilizing peer assessments in every course. Feedback from another human can be much more meaningful than from a computer.
  • Blended Learning: Partner institutions are using Coursera to provide their on-campus students with an improved learning experience. This is shown in studies to increase student engagement, attendance and performance.

Click here to learn about other MOOC options.