December 4, 2021

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The Unbounded University: Identifying Curricula Gaps for Blended Learning

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In the wake of the pandemic, blended learning models that integrate face-to-face and online instruction have been widely adopted. Universities around the world can supplement on-campus programs with online capabilities to:

  • Engage students with content and certifications from top universities and companies—online, offline, and on mobile
  • Build their own credit-eligible courses in core curriculum or for honors credit with academic integrity tools and custom online assessments 
  • Provide hands-on learning for students using real-world tools to learn practical skills
  • Increase student capacity without increasing infrastructure costs

In Part II of our recent report, The Unbounded University: Unlocking Opportunities through Online Learning, we explore when and how academic departments can use digital content to meet students’ evolving needs. The analysis of our platform data reveals that university students across regions are gravitating towards online courses in domains critical to the future of work

As the demand for cutting-edge technical skills grows, our data shows that students are turning to online education to develop related skills, including artificial neural networks and blockchain. Courses that develop specific skills in computer programming and data analysis, are more likely to be missing from a university’s curriculum and have higher rates of engagement from learners on our platform. Our course catalog analysis shows that data analysis skills only appear in 9% of course catalogs, but that engineering students on Coursera enroll in courses teaching data analysis more often than other skills.

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To prepare students for a competitive job market after graduation, universities are leveraging online professional certificates. According to our campus learner survey, more than half of Coursera learners reported that the certificate they earned on the Coursera platform improved their application for a job or internship. Blended learning models allow universities to offer students access to online certifications from industry leaders, such as Google and IBM. Our data reveals that in 2020, the top professional certificates on Coursera globally were: 

  1. Google IT Support
  2. Google IT Automation with Python
  3. Cloud Architecture with Google Cloud
  4. Cloud Engineering with Google Cloud
  5. DeepLearning.AI TensorFlow Developer
  6. SRE and DevOps Engineer with Google Cloud
  7. Google Cloud Security
  8. Google Cloud Networking
  9. IBM Cybersecurity Analyst
  10. IBM Applied AI

Guided Projects also develop students’ job-relevant skills and free up time for faculty to focus on broader projects. Over 2.5 million students have enrolled in Guided Projects on Coursera, which provide students with hands-on learning to develop practical skills. Students use cloud-based desktops in a web browser while industry leaders guide them step-by-step through a project. 

The top Guided Projects for engineering majors on Coursera’s platform are Create Your First Python Program, Build Your Portfolio Website with HTML and CSS and COVID19 Data Analysis Using Python. The top Guided projects for business majors on Coursera’s platform include Getting Started with Power BI Desktop, Google Ads for Beginners, and Introduction to Project Management.

Download the full report here for more insights about the Unbounded University and Coursera for Campus, including how universities are leveraging hands-on Guided Projects and creating custom degrees with online curricula. 

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