Is Coursera the portal it claims to be?
Not long ago we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the MOOCs. They are known to be launched by the two young lecturers of the Stanford University Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng who placed two their IT-courses on the Coursera startup platform and made them publically available. Now Coursera has 82 millions learners including several millions Russians.
In many ways, the attractiveness of the startup Coursera was due to noble mission declared on the Coursera web site: «Learning is the source of human progress. .. No matter who we are and where we are, learning empowers us to change and grow and redefine what’s possible. That’s why access to the best learning is a right, not a privilege. And that’s why Coursera is here. We partner with the best institutions to bring the best learning to every corner of the world. So that anyone, anywhere has the power to transform their life through learning”.
That is, anyone, whoever he is and wherever he lives, has the right to get the best education, and Coursera is committed to ensuring that this right is realized. Sounds nice, don’t say anything
But for the Russian citizens this resource is now unavailable: Coursera has restricted access to the portal for users from Russia.
Why Coursera- the world largest provider of MOOCs — has denied the right to education to Russian citizens? That is, betrayed its mission and showed itself as an ardent Nazi? After all, the restrictions were introduced not on the basis of participation in terrorist or other unsightly activities, but on the basis of belonging to a certain nation — Russian? Alas, this is a clear discrepancy between the declared and the real goal: Coursera is not a powerful vehicle to deliver the world best education to any corner of the globe, but a mean to pressure on representatives of various nations to make them behave in a desired order. Instead of displaying the critical thinking skills that are so needed now and which they undertake to teach the whole world, the Coursera managers give purely emotional assessments of what is happening: they «refuse to make money in Russia while this tragedy is happening.» Such a formulation in itself gives rise to questions, but why the only nation to be punished for what’s happening is the Russian one? And why do they believe the tragedy started to be happening just now?
I’ve been championing MOOCs in Russia for many years. Using these powerful and inspiring resources including Coursera I managed to change my life. But, no matter how bitter it may sound, after 10 years of rapid development business goals have become more important for the Coursera than noble goals declared originally. I repeat: Coursera has betrayed herself via having preferred business goals over its own mission. This education portal, developed once with exceptionally noble purposes, in critical situation revealed itself as a nationalistic and dependent and betrayed interests of thousands Russians studying on it.
That’s why I refuse to study anymore on the Coursera MOOCs. No matter for how long the embargo imposed by the leadership of Coursera on the learning of the Russian citizens will continue, I am not any more a Coursera user and will never be it in future. I hope other Russian Coursera learners will understand me and do the same. Thanks a lot
Instruction Designer of Courses and Programs in Instruction Design and Tutor’s Support in the Virtual Learning Environment including Master Programs and Coursera Specialization. 30+ English language MOOCs and one Specialization learnt mainly on the Coursera.