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...

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