Howard Partners With Coursera To Make Classes More Accessible

Ahmari Anthony, Howard University News Service

Howard University recently announced plans to partner with online learning platform Coursera to launch two courses leading to certificates later this year. The courses are Information Systems for Business and Linear Algebra for Data Science.

The partnership was revealed last week, addressing the goals of the company and the university. 

Coursera is a global online learning platform, founded in 2012 that offers certificate and degree programs, as well as stand-alone projects and courses. Their website states that “77 million learners, 100+ Fortune 500 companies, and more than 6,000 campuses, businesses, and governments come to Coursera to access world-class learning—anytime, anywhere.”

Dr. Barron H. Harvey, Associate Provost for Academic Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at Howard University, said that the two upcoming courses are just the beginning of what the partnership has to offer. 

We expect over the course of the next few years that Howard University will have courses and content in a variety of areas,” Harvey said, stating that the university is aiming to eventually offer 20 or 30 courses and specializations.

He also explained how these courses are developed, blending both the university’s expertise and content with Coursera’s teaching platform and style. 

“They are designed and developed by a faculty member or a team of faculty members,” he continued, adding that “HU students and faculty have access at least through the end of the partnership.”

He also shared additional benefits for current students. “Coursera for Campus is particularly for Howard students. We will also be putting content on that portion of the platform that is available only to Howard students.”

President Wayne A. I. Frederick, who is a member of Coursera’s University Advisory Board, expressed excitement about the partnership, according to the Howard Newsroom. 

“Historically, there has been a disconnect between companies and top-level talent from underrepresented communities who don’t have the same access and resources as other job seekers,”he said “These kinds of partnerships can help enhance opportunities for people of color by aligning their education with the needs of businesses.”

In a memo published last June, Coursera executives also addressed underrepresented groups and historical issues, expressing a desire to “address racial injustice through learning.” 

The team shared a list of potential actions that the company was considering with employees, including “[s]ourcing and promoting content and credentials from authors from underrepresented groups, [s]ourcing and promoting content and credentials with the goal of better meeting the needs of Black learners and small business owners. [and] [c]ontinuing to engage with and encourage HBCUs to become Coursera Partners.”

Dr. Harvey said that these courses serve a wide variety of demographics, from people who may not have had a college education and are looking for competency, to those who have a college education or are currently in the workforce and want to acquire a deeper understanding of a particular area. Other potential students include people looking to transition from one area to another.

“It is multifaceted and it really adds significantly to the offerings that Howard University currently does,” Harvey said. “It is just one of the strategies that we’re putting in place to expand the access to Howard’s education and Howard’s content.”