Coursera is the largest platform for free online academic education today. You can listen to hundreds of different courses from 62 universities from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The majority of universities offer courses in English, but is also available in French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. Coursera offers courses in the following areas: humanities and social sciences, mathematics, economics, law, science, medicine, food, music, design, business, computer science, engineering and others. As of March 2013, Coursera had 2.8 million registered users worldwide.
The main advantage of Coursera as an educational platform is it offers complete courses including not only video lectures and textbooks, but also tasks that contribute to more comprehensive learning.
The configuration of the tasks depends on the specific objectives of the course, it can be tests, essays and projects.
Since the course at the same time tapped tens of thousands of individuals and the teacher is unable to assess all the individual works, the system uses peer-assessment, where students anonymously evaluate each other’s completed tasks according to a proposed scale. In addition, within each course runs a forum for discussion where students can meet, share views on topics of the course, pose questions to the teacher, making the learning process more personalized.
Each course on Coursera begins and ends on specific dates. Duration is from 4 to 14 weeks. A digital certificate is awarded to students upon successful completion of the course if they fulfill all requirements. Although such a certificate is not an official document, it motivates many students to quality of material and processing tasks in a specified time.