Information & Education – Coursera and KhanAcademy


At present, there are many e-learning platforms and sites that someone can watch classes and lessons and gain knowledge on matters that will benefit him/her either in work or in his/her personal life. Examples are: edX, Coursera, MIT OpenCourseWare, Open Yale Courses, Open Learning Initiative, Khan Academy, Canvas Network, NovoEd and many others. Having had experience with Coursera and KhanAcademy I choose to emphasize and analyze those two educational organizations.

Founded in 2012 by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University, Coursera is a for-profit technology education company that offers massive open online courses in many fields and in accordance with many top universities. Its subscribers can either watch a lesson for free or sometimes take a statement of accomplishment but in many cases they can pay a fixed fee so that they can get a verified certificate of the completion of the course. Personally, in 2014, I followed and completed five lessons with success  (in all of them earned a statement of accomplishment) and many other which I left in the middle or in even at the start. This was one of Coursera’s positives that you could actually subscribe to lessons and if you did not find them interesting you could just leave them. Nowadays, Coursera still offers free lessons but there are also many for which you have to pay from the start such as its specialization track courses.

Concerning KhanAcademy we must notice that it is a non-profit educational organization. It was created in 2006 by Bengali-American educator and teacher, Salman Khan, who was former a hedge fund analyst, having had graduated both from MIT and Harvard. The organization produces micro-lectures in the form of YouTube videos and also provides practice exercises. KhanAcademy is free to anyone in the world, provided of course they have an Internet connection. My experience with KhanAcademy occurred also in 2014, when I was preparing to give my GMAT exam. Some of its videos actually proved to be very useful for me as they helped me grasp some mathematical concepts and contributed in a positive way to my final score in the GMAT. Also, KhanAcademy’s practice exercises with their reward point system proved to be very useful as well and helped towards the consolidation of the mathematical ideas discussed in the videos (crucial when running out of time in a test).

If i were to compare those two learning platforms I would have to say that while Coursera did offer me some very interesting and well documented lessons (such as Dan Ariely’s guide to irrational behavior and Luc de Brabandere’s lessons on strategy), I am a bigger fan of the KhanAcademy project not only because it gives people  around the world the choice  to study in their own terms and pace but because it also does it for free, which actually gives a chance to people not having the same access to physical learning environments to compete and evolve alongside others that do. We could even say that KhanAcademy places the motto “Free education to everyone ” in a new base. Don’t you agree?

Sources:

http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/50-top-online-learning-sites/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/education/consortium-of-colleges-takes-online-education-to-new-level.html?_r=1

https://www.khanacademy.org/contribute

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Khan_(educator)

https://www.khanacademy.org/about

Student: Anargyros Michaletos

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