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Coursera Taps Learner Community to Grow Guided Projects

Coursera is testing a new program that lets learners develop short courses for delivery on the MOOC platform. The pilot program is currently taking contact information from people interested in creating "community guided projects."

This is a follow-on to a guided project program that launched last year, allowing subject-matter experts to create courses, an expansion of Coursera's original mission of delivering courses created by the universities and other organizations that serve as its partners.

A guided project is described as a hands-on experience where the author teaches the learner how to accomplish something within a particular program. One example offered is a beginner lesson that introduces the learner to spreadsheets, using Google Sheets.

The rules require that any project "must use a freely available online (web-based) tool as the basis of the work." To participate, the volunteer will have to plan a series of tasks and record a video with a walkthrough, showing how the tasks are done in the chosen product. Coursera estimated that each would take between 10 and 40 hours to create.

Those who create guided projects will earn a Credly digital badge and a Coursera Community badge; creators' projects will gain exposure among "millions of Coursera learners around the world; they may be asked by Coursera to upgrade the project or create a new one for payment; and it will help them "strengthen" their own understanding of a topic, develop their teaching skills or allow them to demonstrate their expertise to hiring managers.

According to reporting by Class Central, guided projects grew out of Coursera's acquisition of Rhyme in 2019. Rhyme's software let people use their browsers to access virtual environments, set up to include the tools needed for a given project — with a workspace and video lesson. By 2020, wrote Dhawal Shah, Coursera had begun calling the Rhyme courses "guided projects," and charging $10 — although many are free. Most take less than two hours to finish. The current catalog includes some 1,684 guided projects.

The community version of guided projects will be free. To learn more about participation, visit the explanatory blog post on Coursera's site.

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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