Coursera picks up steam in China as more students take MOOCs on mobile


It’s just been just over half a year since massive-open-online-course (MOOC) portal Coursera partnered with China’s online media giant Netease to create a fully localized version of its service, Coursera Zone.

Today, China downloads the Coursera Android app more than any other country, and it’s the number two country in terms of iOS download apps. China is Coursera’s fastest growing market after the United States, according to founder Andrew Ng.

Ng gave a keynote at the Global Mobile Internet Conference talking about Coursera’s progress.

All in all, Coursera has 7.5 million students taking 622 courses. Ng described his first time teaching a MOOC class at Stanford: 100,000 people signed up and it would have taken him 250 years to reach that number in a traditional 40-person classroom.

Ng said Coursera’s mobile app will be on the frontier of its expansion into Asia, especially for less affluent people. Lower-income individuals are gaining access to cheaper and cheaper smartphones, but they still tend to have longer commutes and intermittent access to the internet. A mobile app that allows these people to pre-download lessons can spread quality education to all economic classes.

Ng notes the average student on Coursera isn’t a college-aged high school graduate, but a 35-year-old with a Bachelor’s degree. Coursera can’t give them accredited degrees, but employers are taking the certificates that Coursera offers more seriously worldwide.

Other MOOC platforms in China include XuetangX, which is built on the open-source edX platform from Harvard and MIT, and Kaikeba, which recently picked up funding from Fosun Venture Capital.

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