nline education supernova Coursera just announced that it will offer students verified certificates of completion of some of its courses. The identities of students will be verified throughout the course using photographs of themselves and a photo ID taken with the webcam. Students will also create a biometric profile of their unique typing pattern by typing a short phrase which will be used to authenticate work submitted.
The company will charge a fee of between $30 and $100 for certificates depending on the course (Coursera’s courses are free) and certs will not count towards college credit. Students who cannot pay for certificates can apply for financial assistance.
The courses offering certificates are the following but this list is expected to expand rapidly:
UCSF’s Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
UCSF’s Clinical Problem Solving
Duke’s Introduction to Genetics and Evolution
Georgia Tech’s Computational Investing, Part I
Illinois’ Microeconomics Principles
You can tell that an online service is going mainstream when all three of my sisters (none of whom has the slightest interest in technology) have not only heard of Coursera but have signed up. The company had 1 million users after four months in business, a faster rate of growth than Facebook or Twitter in the early days.
Now in business for a year, the site has 2.2 million students (I am one of them. I took co-founder Andrew Ng’s 3-month Machine Learning course) and offers 213 courses from 33 top universities. It’s not all IT and business either, although the Introduction to Finance course is the site’s most popular with 130,000 enrolments. The Modern World: Global History since 1760 recently had 70,000 takers and “Modern & Contemporary American Poetry“, boasted 33,000 students. One third of students come from the U.S followed by India, Brazil, Russia, Canada and the UK.