Last fall, Stanford computer-science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller helped create an online course-hosting platform that opened some of the university’s classes to the world. Coursera, the start-up company that grew out of that effort, is now expanding expand its platform to other top-tier universities, including Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan.
Coursera offers a small mix of classes, including computer science, business, and literature, that are offered free to anyone online, although students cannot earn university credit. Koller said Coursera will leave the choice to award unofficial credentials like certificates of accomplishment up to its partner institutions. Koller also said that Coursera’s platform could allow professors to build a better face-to-face experience with students by flipping their classrooms, with interactive classroom instruction replacing the traditional lecture, which is presented in other formats for students to absorb outside of class.