Coursera expands into corporate learning and development

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Coursera, the education tech platformthat offers online courses from prestigiouscolleges and universities, is branching into corporate learning and development and has officially launched Coursera for Business today.

Coursera CEO Rick Levin, formerly the president of Yale University, told TechCrunch that the move was a natural one for the startup.

Wehave 21 million registered users and are adding about half-a-million registered users per month. When we looked at theemail addresses of our learners we wouldsee thousands signing up from one corporate email domain, ten thousand in one case, he said.

That was an indication large employers already were, or wouldbe interested in using Coursera to help employees withprofessional development.

Coursera for Business will be tapping intoa broadtrend in corporate training, learning and development.

According to the 2015 Annual Training report,totalU.S. corporate training expenditureshit$70.6 billion last year, withless money going to payroll, or full-time training staff, and more money going to outside products and services, and technology use on the rise.

More than 70% of companies use learning management systems and virtual classroom, webcasting and other e-learning platforms, the report said, and at least 40% use application simulation tools.

Courseras catalogspans from the more technical tosoftersubjects, including management, psychology and the humanities. The selection, and the companys relationships with higher ed institutions, with whom it shares revenue,make it distinct from Pluralsight,Treehouse and myriad others that focus ontech skills for employees or others.

And Courseras classes arelonger format videos and assessments, rather than videos and interactive quizzesbroken into bite-sized chunks like those developed by Grovo and others catering to a short attention span demographic.

The new Coursera for Business allows companies to track the progress of employees who are working on new skills, or brushing up old ones via the platform. And it offers learners certifications that they can display on profiles internally or LinkedIn and elsewhere to advertise their successful completion of a course.

Companies that have already been piloting Coursera for Business include:BNY Mellon, BCG, LOral and Axis Bank, the company said.

Coursera Executive Vice President JuliaStiglitz addedthat professional development has become a perk, of sorts. Referencing a PriceWaterhouseCoopersurvey oftheir preferences, she said millennial workers considerlearning and development in a job as important as (if not more important than) how much they are paid.

Co-founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera has raised $146.1 million in venture funding. New Enterprise Associates led a $50 million Series C round in the company last year.

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