Now There's A Way To Take Ivy League Classes Without Paying A Dime

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Photo: Flickr / rkeefer

If you’ve always dreamed of learning from a professor at an Ivy League school, but can’t afford it, Coursera wants you to go to their website.The social entrepreneurship company offers courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania, for free. For everyone.

Users can log on, listen to the lectures, interact with graphics and power points, do the homework and even get it graded.

Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, who met at Stanford, started Coursera in 2011 with just three classes. They reached 100,000 people and knew it was time to expand.

“Whenever we do anything in our company, the first question is always, ‘Is this best for the student?'” Ng said. “It was better for every student if we could expand.”

To meet growing demand, the company recently raised a $16 million round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.

“Universities are excited about this because they realise they offer an elite education, and now instead of just reaching a minority, they can reach the masses and continue to be the best,” said Ng.

No, the credits don’t transfer. But if you can’t afford to officially enroll in an Ivy, you can take classes, get good grades, and show perspective employers what you’re made of.

Currently, the model works best for classes like engineering, where homework can be submitted in multiple choice format. But now that the venture capital is secured and the company can concentrate efforts on adopting a peer-editing model for courses about poetry, or English classes with large roster.

“Universities have put material online for years now,” Koller said. “But we how we are innovating is we are thinking about camera angles on professors faces, how long to show the professors versus content on student’s screens, how to make the lesson more interactive and how all of this plays into their retention rate.”

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