How is Coursera revolutionizing edtech with generative AI?

Coursera has been at the center of education technology () for over a decade. The California-based startup not only democratized education but also revolutionized it. By the start of the pandemic, Coursera had already embraced AI through CourseMatch as part of its Coronavirus Response Initiative. 

Its goal throughout COVID-19 was simple: to enable universities to facilitate learning as governments worldwide mandated the shutdown of non-essential institutions in response to the pandemic. Today, Coursera has garnered over 124 million registered learners, hosting more than 5,400 courses, created mainly by nearly 300 universities and industry partners like Google and IBM

Coursera's ecosystem - now with AI.

Then came ChatGPT in late 2022 — a powerful, freely available AI software capable of writing sophisticated responses to prompts — that sparked intense speculation about the long-term repercussions on various industries and activities. But nowhere has the impact been felt more immediately than in education. 

The edtech industry was valued at US$123 billion in 2022. Still, the market is expected to grow at a 13.6% compounded annual rate, reaching US$348 billion by 2030, according to Grandview research. These figures are no surprise, given the massive move toward remote and hybrid work. 

In addition, the recent rise in AI means an estimated 44% of employee skills are expected to be disrupted over the next five years, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report. Therefore, six in 10 workers will require training before 2027. On the other side of the market, new skills are increasing in demand, such as data science, coding, and big data. 

Given Coursera's position as a market leader in edtech, the company has all the opportunities to fill this gap in the education industry. And it did – at its 11th annual conference in April this year, Coursera unveiled its newest AI personal learning assistant, “Coach.” The company also revealed it was adding ChatGPT-powered interactive edtech tools to its learning platform, including Coach for students and an AI course-building tool for teachers. 

But learning online remains a hard nut to crack. Evidence that it works has often been contradictory or disappointing. In fact, many still remember the hype a decade ago around MOOCs, or massive open online courses, which did not prove as transformative as some advocates had hoped, with few students completing the classes they started. Yet, some changes in how online courses are structured now seem promising.

What's the learner base like in the region you cover?

Asia Pacific has around 19 million learners, and India has around 20 million. The country with the largest number of registered learners is the US at 22 million, followed by India, Mexico, Brazil, and China. Asia Pacific is growing reasonably fast. I'm responsible for all three parts of this business. We work with educators in the region, who create content on the Coursera platform. We work with businesses, governments, and campuses as well.

Demographics of Coursera learners. Source: Coursera

In total, around 200 universities and 100 companies create content. When Coursera started with MOOCs, it started with courses that took four to six weeks to complete.

Today, the catalog of content has expanded significantly. There are around 3,500 guided projects, courses, and specializations and nearly 50 online degrees in the Coursera platform.

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