Daphne Koller is an innovator, teacher, and leader in the education technology space who has been nominated for two National Science Foundation Yerkes-Dodson Awards. Koller has created one of the most impactful, large-scale, and first online high school systems in the U.
Daphne Koller, What We’re Learning From Online Education
How the #1 Academic Technology Company at Stanford University Successfully Brings Interactive Design & Learning to Kids From Kindergarten to College
In 2011, Daphne Koller realized that her younger daughter struggled with computer programming when it came to creating simple programs. When she went online to do research, she came across a site where people were trying to figure out how to get kids to use the very same tools. That discovery led to Koller’s business, Coursera. It’s the exclusive provider of digital-course material for more than 50,000 educators worldwide.
Today, the 12-year-old startup is composed of over 110 full-time staff in the United States and also works with over 18 other countries. It just moved its headquarters from San Francisco to the headquarters of Microsoft in Seattle, Washington. The move marks Coursera’s expansion into the East Coast tech market, where the company hopes to capitalize on the growing recognition of artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology.
Online educators have known for quite some time that digital content is the answer to revamping a broken educational system. For years, however, it’s been one of the main challenges in bringing online learning to a classroom. And while Koller and her team have overcome plenty of challenges, the technology innovation market has changed significantly, making the company and its other competitors move rapidly to adapt to new technological developments.
Interestingly, Koller says that Coursera’s greatest challenge was the bad press that it garnered in 2014 after CEO Andrew Ng announced he was stepping down amidst controversies involving a business called the TechStars Fund that Coursera launched.
“We realized immediately that we had a huge opportunity with Andrew’s resignation,” Koller says. “The negativity around online education and Andrew’s departure was not only valuable when it came to changing the way people view online learning but also at that point in time, we needed to be thinking about how we could embrace the way that online learning evolved.”
Nearly 4 years after his departure, Koller says that tech is about to “happen.” While online education is still largely a tertiary route to the college experience, Coursera is confident that in 20 years, it will be “almost impossible to keep learning to be a digital native.”
Among its many achievements, Coursera strives to be the “go-to digital learning platform.” And not just for K-12 education, but for anyone who wants to get better at anything online. In February, the company brought millions of students together through real-time discussions on the fifth anniversary of its website.
“At the core of Coursera is simple concept: take the best of online courses, make it available everywhere,” Koller explains.
More than 800 million people are registered to take courses on Coursera, and they total over 50,000 registered college course courses, making it the most popular MOOC site in the world. Coursera also serves more than 20,000 institutions worldwide, giving educators access to courses that are accessible to students with learners around the world.
While she wants to believe that Coursera is always going to be ahead of the curve, Koller admits that the company doesn’t have much room for optimism. Technology has changed drastically in the last year, and Coursera is constantly adjusting to keep up with and protect the users’ experience.
“Everything has changed,” she says. “Every week, we have a new set of applications and technology that is disrupting online learning in the ways that we’ve never seen before.”
To better serve educators, Coursera now features a new interactive learning platform, which allows course-holders to engage in a series of in-person and virtual discussions. It also allows instructors to track individual progress and comments through the platform, which can be accessed for free, of course.
Koller also shares that the team continues to work on ways to fulfill its mission of making online education more inclusive, by designing a platform for those who cannot yet afford the full price of education. Coursera launched an early-stage fundraiser in 2018 to provide donations to educators who need a little extra assistance. So far, the campaign has reached over $1.6 million dollars.
What Is Coursera?
Founded in 2011, Coursera is a provider of online educational materials that bring meaningful learning experiences to a broad audience. Coursera’s website offers a variety of courses for both individuals and educational institutions. Coursera also offers an aggressive fundraising program that lets educators donate to teachers to help in their classrooms. In April 2015, the company was accepted into Stanford’s business incubator, Scrum, and in April 2016,