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Coursera for Campus Extends Free Plans, Adds Enhancements

Coursera has announced that it is continuing its offer of free courses for students and whole campuses, along with some enhanced functionality.

Free access to Coursera for Campus was announced in March, to help institutions of higher education transform their programs to online formats. Access to 3,800 courses offered in the Coursera catalog was expected to be accessible until the end of September. At that time, the company noted that it would continue providing "month-to-month extensions depending on prevailing risk assessments." The campus structure was designed to help institutions supplement their own curricula with content taken from the Coursera collection. Faculty could publish their own lessons, courses, assessments and projects through the platform and use Coursera for Campus' sign-in, gradebooks and plagiarism detection functionality.

According to Coursera, some 3,700 universities and colleges are now using the Campus product. And the company has solidified a three-tier structure, which continues the free plan on two of the tiers:

  • The "Student" plan gives students free access to one course each year (with some exclusions) and an unlimited number of guided projects for hands-on learning. They'll also have access to the online help center.
  • The "Basic" plan gives every institution up to 20,000 free student licenses, each with access to the student plan components — one course a year, unlimited access to guided projects and help through the online help center. It also includes some plagiarism deterrence features.
  • The "Institution" plan, which is paid, expands the basic plan by allowing for unlimited course enrollments for each student license. It also includes functionality for schools and instructors to create, grade and manage for-credit online learning programs.

On the academic integrity front, faculty can run secure, high-stakes exams and uncover plagiarism in assignments. The Institution version supports online proctoring with integrations like ProctorU and allows exams to be timed and scheduled. If the integration is with Turnitin, students can check their "similarity score" before submitting assignments, and instructors can view suspected and confirmed plagiarism incidents in the Campus program's Gradebook (on both the Basic and Institution plan). Coursera for Campus also disables URL sharing and copying of peer reviews to deter easy plagiarism (in all plans).

A new "question banks" feature simplifies creation of custom assessments at scale. Educators can create assessments with any combination of auto-graded multiple choice and manually graded essay questions. By the end of the year, they'll also be able to develop questions and randomize them based on learning objective and difficulty level.

New authoring functionality — the same used to create Coursera courses — is now available to help faculty to build custom courses, hands-on projects and assessments and embed Zoom recordings with Live2Coursera.

Over the coming months, the company said it would introduce a new curriculum tool to help faculty curate Coursera content "to fill curriculum gaps, teach new specialties and focus programs on specific disciplines or difficulty levels."

Finally, Coursera said that during the pandemic, seven in 10 students used a mobile device to access their learning on the Campus platform. Refinements to the software now allow students to download courses for offline learning, synchronize progress and quizzes, take notes with highlights and do calendar sync.

"We chose Coursera to strengthen our existing course offering, infuse work skills into all elements of our teaching, expand our offering in the domains of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data literacy and be a global education brand," said Stanley Makhosi Bhebhe, vice chancellor of Kenya-based Africa Nazarene University, in a press release. "We've had outstanding training and support from Coursera in onboarding students. In just four weeks, more than 1,100 students have enrolled in over 4,400 courses." The university adopted the Coursera for Campus platform in September.

"The pandemic has been a punctuation moment in higher education. Faced with unprecedented urgency, educators are working hard to prepare for the 'new normal' of blended learning," added Matthew Rascoff, associate vice provost for Digital Education and Innovation at Duke University Libraries. "At the peak of disruption, Coursera for Campus allowed us to serve impacted students of our Kunshan (China) campus. We are excited to see it launch new features that are critical to providing academically rigorous and job-relevant online learning that both faculty and students would find valuable." The Duke Kunshan University is a Chinese-American partnership of Duke and Wuhan University. Originally, the institution provided students with access to materials on Coursera developed by Duke faculty. However, that was expanded to include courses created by other institutions, under its Coursera for DKU program, introduced last year.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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