On March 31st and April 1st, Coursera.org, the world’s largest platform for free online education, gathered its partners in London. The major players of the famous educational startup team, including recently appointed CEO Richard Levin (who served as president of Yale for 20 years), spent two days sharing their experiences and ideas with people who share their dream of making knowledge as accessible as possible all over the world.
Facebook picture from Yulia Lesnikova, Director of Educational Programs at the Digital October Center, Coursera’s first partner in Russia.
The press took notice of this event, as well: BBC correspondent Sean Coughlan took a look at the first results of Coursera’s international Learning Hubs programs and talked to the people who organize these onsite seminars and practicums, which supplement the online courses in Paris, Beijing, London, and Moscow:
'The Coursera learning hubs are running in more than 30 cities, from Baghdad to Buenos Aires, Moscow to Mumbai and Shanghai to Santiago.
The learning hubs are run by partner organisations, providing a place where students following Coursera online courses can come to study together and get help from mentors.
In Moscow, the learning hub is hosted by Digital October, a centre for technology and entrepreneurship. Yulia Lesnikova, director of educational programs, says it provides a more sociable way of following online courses.
"Education is a two-way process… It's a shoulder to lean on," she says.
Students can work in groups on practical projects together with experts available to give advice.
"Mentors give a lot of help to people who don't understand."
There have been four online courses so far followed in the Moscow learning hub. This includes a course about genetics created by the University of British Columbia, with students in Moscow being supported by an expert from one of Russia's oldest genetics institutes.
There is a course on gamification from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, with sub-titles in Russian.
When students are gathered for their Mooc classes it becomes a focus for other spin-offs, such as firms wanting to recruit staff or to get students involved in developing commercial projects.'
Our Center’s collaboration with Coursera dates back one year and, in addition to the organization of these hubs, includes managing the translations of selected courses. This March, Digital October and ABBYY Language Services launched the open version of the crowd platform on which the official Russian user subtitles for Coursera.org are now created.