- Coursera on Wednesday announced the latest round of top company partners to bolster the final "Capstones" projects in its Specializations series of MOOCs.
- Among the companies supporting the latest curated course series are Instagram, Snapdeal, Shazam, and 500 Startups. Last year's specializations — the first offered — had participation from Google, SwiftKey, and iHeartMedia.
- The idea behind the Specializations tracks is that those enrolled master a skill via the simultaneous benefit of instruction from top institutions and real-world market perspective of the companies involved.
Each Course Specialization features its own institution and company. The latest round of Capstones break down as follows: UC-San Diego's Interaction Design, with Instagram; the Wharton School's Business Foundations, with Snapdeal and Shazam; and the University of Maryland's Entrepreneurship, with 500 Startups. On its blog, Coursera highlighted the previous Capstone experiences of two former students, one who developed a predictive text app in SwiftKey project and another who was contacted by a recruiter as a result of the verified certificate displayed on his LinkedIn page.
That last detail should be of particular note to higher ed institutions. The playing field is rapidly changing and new forms of credentials are gaining steam — not just for students wishing to continue their education or pick up new skills, but for employers, as well. If traditional higher ed wants to maintain its appeal with some of those prospective continuing ed students, it will need to explore the idea of offering skill-specific learning opportunities that require less time and award credentials via a badge or certification.
Traditional degrees will likely always have their own market, but waiting until it's too late to embrace a new market could prove hazardous for many schools.