Google goes long in short course enrolments


In just a year there have been 500 000 enrolments in the training certificates it offers via Coursera

Twelve months ago Google announced a suite of six month “Career Certificates” to replace four year undergraduate degrees for data analysts, project managers and UX designers. They chose Coursera as the on-line delivery platform.

Earlier this month Coursera’s Chief Content Officer addressed the QS Europe conference. Betty Vandenbosch noted there have been 500 000 enrolments in the Google certificates. And no wonder – the price is less than US $300 (plus 100,000 scholarships funded by Google).

Not only has the level of interest been significant, the certificates also attracted a diverse group of learners: 59 per cent had no prior degree, 53 per cent are African-American, women, Latino or veterans, and 46 per cent earn less than US $30,000 pa.

Recognising that this cohort of students may need additional support, Coursera has worked with non-government organisations, community colleges and governments to provide on-the-ground mentoring, coaching and peer support.

Upon completion, graduates can apply for job vacancies at more than 130 large employers which are Google partners (for example, Intel, Walmart, H&R Block). In the US, 82 per cent of Google IT Support Professional Certificate completers report a positive career outcome (a new job, enhanced skills, promotion, or raise) within six months.

Learners can also go on to further study at one of Coursera’s partner universities, with the certificate counting for credit towards their degree. Dr Vandenbosch indicated that this year one-third of enrolments in the University of London’s BSc Computer Science had done a Google certificate and received credit for it.

It is no wonder that in Australia the Commonwealth has provided funding to UAC to create an on-line micro-credential marketplace showing the short courses available to students and the credit they will receive for them.

Many, but not all, Australian tertiary institutions are looking at short courses to complement their traditional offerings. Given the obvious success of Google’s certificates (and other industry-certified alternatives) they will need to ensure that what they offer delivers real value for students.

Claire Field has more EdTech insights from the recent QS Europe and NCVER conferences on her website, and in her latest podcast episode she spoke with Professor Sally Kift about the AQF Review, micro-credentials, credit transfer and more.