News

Jul 9, 2020

Expanding Coursera for Duke

Blythe Tyrone

Nearly three years ago we launched Coursera for Duke, a new model for online learning for the Duke community. Rather than limiting online learning to the confines of the curriculum and calendar, we reimagined it as a co-curricular complement to residential liberal arts education. By freeing students to develop practical skills in self-directed, self-paced, non-credit courses we could […]


Nearly three years ago we launched Coursera for Duke, a new model for online learning for the Duke community. Rather than limiting online learning to the confines of the curriculum and calendar, we reimagined it as a co-curricular complement to residential liberal arts education. By freeing students to develop practical skills in self-directed, self-paced, non-credit courses we could relieve their pre-professional pressure and allow them to explore the full intellectual universe of Duke.

Practical learning has its place in higher education, but it should be balanced with curiosity-driven ranging across a curriculum that represents the breadth of human knowledge. As Duke student leader Kushal Kadakia said, “Coursera for Duke eliminates the false dilemma that students face between taking classes you ‘want’ versus classes you think you ‘need.’ Digital learning allows us to study our passions on campus while acquiring skills online—all while moving at our own pace and without pressure to ensure we can meet the demands of the rapidly evolving modern economy.”

Coursera for Duke has been successful: 6,300 Duke students, alums, faculty and staff have spent 90,000 hours completing 70,000 lessons on the platform. It has also made an impact beyond Duke and become a model adopted by hundreds of institutions worldwide. Coursera has even developed an enterprise product, “Coursera for Campus,” based on Duke’s approach.

Today we’re announcing a pilot expansion of Coursera for Duke that will grant our community access not only to Duke-created courses, but to nearly the entire Coursera catalogue of 3,800 courses built by Coursera partner institutions. These courses remain non-credit but those who successfully complete them can earn credentials jointly from the universities that developed the courses and Coursera. Duke netID holders can access the expanded catalogue here.

The pilot is part of our emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We anticipate two main benefits: students can enroll in a larger set of courses covering a wider range of topics; and Duke faculty can assign lessons from a larger library of high quality modular courseware to accelerate the development of their own online courses this fall. Coursera courses can’t stand in for a faculty-led engaged learning experience, but their content can provide a foundation upon which a Duke instructor layers active learning, collaborative projects, office hours, and other forms of engagement.

The expansion of Coursera for Duke builds on an earlier initiative at Duke Kunshan University, where we pioneered access to the full Coursera catalog as part of their emergency remote teaching response in February. That program, in turn, became a template for Coursera’s worldwide coronavirus response, which has engaged millions of students and thousands of universities worldwide—including, now, Duke.

We are committing to offering this pilot access through 2020, and may extend a version of the program beyond that date. Duke students, faculty and staff can enroll in courses through October 2020 and have through December 2020 to complete courses.