Coursera’s online insight: Short classes are education’s future

Andrew Ng is at it again. The cofounder of Coursera — a Silicon Valley startup that offers free college-level classes to millions of online visitors –  is politely challenging another bedrock assumption in higher education, Forbes reports.

This time, it’s the belief that most classes should run 12 weeks or more. Not so, says Ng. In Coursera’s online world, where there’s no need to follow traditional academic calendars, the short class is enjoying a remarkable burst of popularity.

As the accompanying chart shows, Coursera currently is offering classes as short as three weeks. Its most common offerings run just six weeks. And classes of 10 weeks or more constitute just 27% of Coursera’s current menu of 335 classes.

What’s making conciseness so appealing? In a new LinkedIn Influencers post, I share some of Ng’s perspectives. Coursera’s classes typically experience two waves of attrition. The first involves people who sign up for classes and then never attend a lecture — or give up after a few minutes. That sort of casual browsing doesn’t bother Coursera insiders.

The site is designed to make such window-shopping easy.

Read more