World Bank and Coursera to Partner on Open Learning

October 15, 2013

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2013 – The World Bank has signed an agreement with Coursera, a leading provider of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), to help meet the demand for practical solutions-oriented learning on pressing issues in developing countries.  Ending extreme poverty within a generation and boosting shared prosperity among the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries are the goals guiding the World Bank Group’s work.

These Massive Open Online Courses will be offered as part of the new Open Learning Campus being built by the World Bank, where practitioners, development partners, and the general public can more systematically access real-time, relevant and world-class learning. The Bank has offered e-learning successfully through its e-institute in critical areas of development, such as health, education, urban development and climate change, and is now planning to scale up its offerings through the Campus and through partnerships with regional and country-based institutions and via innovative delivery vehicles. This partnership with Coursera will give people across the globe easier access to valuable, evidence-based knowledge on complex development problems. Working together with 91 educational institutions across four continents, Coursera now offers more than 450 free online college-level courses to 5 million students around the world.

“We see knowledge, learning and innovation as key accelerators to reach our goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030” said Sanjay Pradhan, the World Bank’s Vice President for Change, Knowledge and Learning. “We are always looking for new ways to translate knowledge into action that tackles the many challenges that practitioners face on a daily basis,” he added.

Under this non-exclusive partnership, the Bank will use the Coursera platform to deliver MOOCs on frontier development topics. These courses and the online communities of learners built around them will help deliver technical knowledge as well as foster the exchange of very practical skills among practitioners on how to tackle specific development challenges. The first MOOC, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, is expected to start in January 2014. It will be on the topic of climate change and is also expected to allow the Bank to reach out to a broader public interested these issues. Future topics being contemplated for MOOCs include health and sanitation.

The partnership will also allow the World Bank to explore the specific challenges faced in developing countries, such as dealing with low internet bandwidth, customizing content for local realities, and exploring the potential for mobile learning.

“Since its launch, Coursera has experienced remarkable growth and momentum toward its mission to expand quality learning opportunities around the world for free. Among other areas of growth, Coursera continues to expand its capacity to deliver the best online learning centered on practical skills. An area of focus will be on social and economic development, and the partnership with the World Bank will be instrumental in this regard,” said Coursera Co-Founder Daphne Koller.

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