Edtech firms offer free access to their courses amid Coronavirus crisis

Topics Coronavirus | coursera | Byju's

Coursera, founded by Stanford Professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, has 48 million registered learners worldwide and offers courses, specialisations, degrees, and certificate programmes online.
Online education companies in India and globally are offering their paid programmmes to students — whether in school or pursuing higher education — free of cost because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning Thursday, online learning giant Coursera said it is going to provide every impacted university in the world free access to its course catalogue through ‘Coursera for Campus’ until July 31.

“We’re going to make ‘Coursera for Campus’ offering freely available to any college or university in the world that is impacted by coronavirus, in the hope that they can rapidly allow students to start learning and ensure we have minimal impact from coronavirus on the student community,” said Leah Belsky, chief enterprise officer and senior vice-president, Coursera.

Coursera, founded by Stanford Professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, has 48 million registered learners worldwide and offers courses, specialisations, degrees, and certificate programmes online.

The ‘Coursera for Campus’ offers job-relevant online education to students, alumni, faculty, and employees of firms like Mindtree, Tata Communications, Axis Bank, Infosys, Airtel, and Manipal Group.

Indian universities can continue teaching their students online without creating new infrastructure. Coursera’s existing ‘Coursera for Campus’ partners include Manipal Academy of Higher Education, UPES, Shiv Nadar University, KL University, NMIMS, and Pearl Academy.

In India, it has 5 million registered learners, and is adding over 100,000 learners per month.

Universities can sign up to provide their enrolled students with access to more than 3,800 courses and 400 specialisations from Coursera’s top university and industry partners.

Similarly, Indian education technology firms are also offering free classes and course material for students impacted by the novel coronavirus. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Bengaluru-based edtech firm Simplilearn is providing free access to its courses, based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, Big Data, and cybersecurity, among others, to its users. 

“We understand the possible restrictions (due to the coronavirus outbreak) and thereby continue to support the growth of our learners through our free online programmes on our app,” said Krishna Kumar, founder and chief executive, Simplilearn.

Byju’s also said it would provide free access to its complete app to school students till the end of April.

Some Indian states like Kerala, Karnataka and New Delhi have already announced the closure of schools.

A UNESCO report states that the education of over 290 million students across 13 countries will be interrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vedantu too is offering support to students, parents and schools in Bengaluru, New Delhi, Kerala and Hyderabad to provide free access to its complete learning platform. Vedantu will offer free access to all live classes of Vedantu master teachers, study  material, tests and assignments.

"We are constantly working on solutions that will drive evolution, fundamentally changing the pattern of teaching and learning today. We are here to support by  making our platform free during this crucial time,” said Vamsi Krishna, CEO and co-founder, Vedantu.

Another edtech platform Unacademy said it will conduct close to 20,000 free live classes on its platform, across exam categories like UPSC, banking, railways and so on.

Unacademy claims it has 10,000 educators, 13 million learners, and subscriptions for over 30 exam categories.

Educational Initiatives, a 20-year old edtech company based out of Bengaluru is also offering 60 days free access of Mindspark to all students, so that the school closure due to COVID-19 does not impact their learning.

Mindspark is an artificial intelligence-powered specialised mathematics programme developed for children’s learning.

Similarly, edtech firm Toppr is going to provide free live classes to students in classes 5 to 12.

While it is yet to be seen how effective these measures will be, Coursera’s Belsky said the US education system invested in digitising after events like Hurricane Katrina, which forced school and college students to miss studies for months.

According to some estimates, in New Orleans alone, 110 of the 126 public schools were completely destroyed and students had to be moved to neighbouring states to complete their education.


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