Do Specializations make a career difference
Massive open online courses
But simply increasing the number of educational opportunities isn’t enough to make an impact on learning, as Daphne Koller, co-founder, and president of Coursera, frequently hears. “We’ve often been asked by a lot of people, ‘It’s great you’re providing access to education, but how are you sure you’re helping them?”
Her company has just released results from its first longitudinal study, which asked 51,954 learners whether they enjoyed any career or educational benefits three months or more after finishing a course. Overall, 72 percent of respondents reported career benefits, and 61 percent said they enjoyed educational gains.
The survey (PDF) was conducted in December 2014 by researchers from the company and the University of Pennsylvania and University of Washington, both Coursera partners. Respondents were asked to self-identify as belonging to one of two groups: “career builders” seeking job benefits including pay raise and promotions, or “education seekers” looking for academic credits.
Fifty-two percent of learners said they took courses to advance their careers. Within this group, 87 percent said they enjoyed career benefits—and 33 percent say they received “tangible” benefits, defined as a raise, promotion, a new job, or starting their own business.
“For the career seekers, the signal was pretty clear that the strongest benefits came from courses in data, technology, and business,” Koller tells EdSurge. This feedback has influenced some of the company’s decisions with regards to course offerings. “It’s something that has shaped our business strategy,” she adds. “We acquired a lot of content to ensure that if someone comes on the platform, no matter what their stage of development, they have the right content and the right level.
That career-oriented learners are more focused on building applicable, skills-based knowledge shouldn’t surprise anyone. The majority of Coursera’s paid “Specialization” programs, a series of courses that offer verified certificates, focus on data science, business, and programming