Edtech Insiders

Launching Products to 100mm+ Users with Shravan Goli of Coursera

September 12, 2022 Alex Sarlin Season 2 Episode 10
Edtech Insiders
Launching Products to 100mm+ Users with Shravan Goli of Coursera
Show Notes Transcript

Shravan Goli has been the Chief Product Officer and Head of Consumer Revenue at Coursera since 2018. Shravan came to Coursera with over 20 years of experience of building products and leading companies. He has built products at Microsoft and Yahoo, been the CEO of Dictionary.com, and was most recently President of tech job marketplace Dice (part of public company DHI Group Inc).

Coursera was launched in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. It is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with over 100 million registered learners globally.

Coursera partners with over 275 of the world’s top universities (Yale, University of London, Penn) and industry educators (Google, Meta, IBM) to offer courses, Specializations, projects, certificates, and degrees. Over 7,000 businesses, government entities, and campuses have used Coursera’s enterprise offering to provide job-relevant online education to their employees, citizens, and students.

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Alexander Sarlin:

Welcome to Season Two of edtech insiders, where we talk to the most interesting thought leaders, founders, entrepreneurs, educators and investors driving the future of education technology. I'm your host, Alex Sarlin, an edtech veteran with over 10 years of experience at top edtech companies. shovin goalie has been the chief product officer and head of consumer revenue at Coursera. Since 2018, shovin came to Coursera with over 20 years of experience of building products and leading companies. He's built products at Microsoft and Yahoo. He's been the CEO of dictionary.com. And he was most recently President of tech job marketplace dice, which is now part of public company DHI group. Coursera, was launched in 2012. By two Stanford computer science professors Andrew Yang and Daphne Kohler with a mission to provide universal access to world class learning. This is now one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, with over 100 million registered learners globally. Coursera partners with over 275 of the world's top universities, such as Yale, University of London or UPenn, and industry educators like Google Mehta and IBM to offer courses specializations project certificates and degrees. Over 7000 businesses, government entities and campuses have used Corsairs enterprise offering to provide job relevant online education to their employees, citizens and students, shrub and goalie, welcome to Ed Tech insiders.

Unknown:

Hi, Alex. Great to meet you. And nice to be here.

Alexander Sarlin:

Great to meet you as well, shrub and you have a really interesting background in product management and leadership, mostly in technology with with big tech giants like Microsoft, Yahoo dictionary.com, where you were the CEO, give us an overview of your career, what brought you to Coursera? And what do you love about education technology?

Shravan Goli:

Yeah, that's a great question. So when I think about sort of the career arc I've taken, it was somewhat deliberate somewhat like, you know, by luck, I would say, but fundamentally, back when I was at Microsoft, I started as a techie, and I really wanted to, you know, I got bored with coding, I just feel like, why are people asking me to build this core, right this quarter, I want to understand the why. And that's when I switched over to sort of, hey, I want to go into product management, because that's where you can learn more about the customers and their needs, etc. And they got me to think it was like, Oh, maybe I want to start a company of my own at some point in my life. So I should really understand the 360 the business, so I went and got an MBA. And I really kind of evolved from there into other roles, like marketing and sales enablement, and then general management. And you know, here I am kind of doing a hybrid role. But to me, I think when I think about the arc, the other common piece is the, I've been really attracted to missions where there's a real connection to helping people transform their lives one way or the other. And when I say people, it could be individuals, it could be businesses, right. So that arc, and then I particular, when I look at the last 1015 years of my life, starting a dictionary, it's all being an education, and then dies. It's all being on couriers, and to me, Coursera is sort of this perfect combination of helping people develop the couriers skills to land into the right careers, or, you know, growing the careers. Now stepping out from a mission standpoint on top of it, and you ask education, education technology field, I'm a big believer in education and learning as a source of human progress. You know, when I think about the world, there is a real need for ensuring education as a fundamental right, and not a privilege. When to me, I think I've been lucky enough to grow in a family where there's support for education, and I have access to education. But when I look at like, lots of lots of our learners, over 80% of our learners are not in us, there's a real challenge in getting access to high quality, affordable education. And so that's what I think really, when I spent time with Coursera, understanding Coursera and the company and the leadership, I realized we have the power to transform lives, no matter who we are, and where we live. And so to me, I think you've been here before Corsair have founders started the company with this mission in mind. And you know, I'm honestly looking back over the last four and a half years, I'm just glad that I've had this opportunity to build on their vision to reach this large global database.

Alexander Sarlin:

Yeah, it makes sense the combination of education of career and product management, general management, you know, your role at Coursera is varied. It has different aspects and it's really, really interesting one, I wanted to start by asking you about about the product side. So you know, Coursera has A really unusual set of product offerings. It's very wide spanning you mentioned, you know, business audiences, consumer audiences, there's 10s of millions of individuals, but also 1000s of companies, there's Coursera for universities, governments, national governments, you know, how do you think about all these different audiences for Coursera? And how do you develop a product that has so many different use cases, it's pretty

Unknown:

complex. And I think it's fairly hard. But I think the way at least we like to think of it as like, the most simplistic way to think about it is we're basically a platform because there is a platform that connects this global learning ecosystem. And we often call insight is a three sided platform that connects learners, educators, and institutions. So assets, when I think about, you know, when we look at across over 100 million learners globally, the vast majority of the learners come to Coursera to advance their careers. You know, we call them we can bucket them into segments on the learner side, we call them as starters for just looking to land their first digital job, or switchers, you know, who are looking to switch into digital and demand careers, or inventors who are looking to continuously upskill their careers. So when I think about that the most meaningful distinction comes down to someone's career motive, like rescale, or upskill, or just enhanced in these in demand areas. So I think what happened, you know, when I look at like, also, from a cost center standpoint, historically, we attracted the Advancers bucket, because you know, those who are just like trying to upskill within content, data, technology and business, right. But more recently, I think, especially over the last three years, and with pandemic, we've been attracting a large volume off the starters, and switchers with the professional certificates that target entry level digital jobs. So you know, that's on the learner side. And then we got the educators who are looking to teach the world. And so the most simplistic way to think about it is like, okay, all these learners are looking to rescale upskill, what is the content that would teach them those skills, and who are the people that can teach those skills, obviously, best universities in the world, best companies in the world, are the ones that have the ability to teach these in demand skills, or the knowledge. And so we work with these educators. And within the world of educators, obviously, you can look at like all the different types of personalities, like the admins or the UDM, or the professors and faculty, etc. And then we build experiences around that. And lastly, we think of ourselves, this institutions as the third part of our platform, we're really looking to transform their talent, right, whether it's enterprises, government agencies and other universities. So that's kind of the way we at least try to simplify this in a way we can look at like, what is the common thing that draws them all together, but then within this sort of the components of this ecosystem, what are sort of the common capabilities that we have to enable for them to participate in this ecosystem.

Alexander Sarlin:

So on the learner side, you have sort of the starter switcher and advancer segment, that's all within the groups that are looking for career advancement, which is 80% of learners. And then on the educator side, you have a wide variety of, you know, universities, which is where at Coursera started companies, various types of organizations that are educating, and now also universities. And then this enterprise audience. It's, it's a complex ecosystem, but it's exciting. And you know, even besides the different target audiences, Coursera now offers a really wide spectrum of offerings at very different price points, you know, it started with these MOOCs, and they became $50 certificates, then going down to guided projects, which are I understand very fast certificates. Tell us about the product mix of Coursera. And how you got to this, this really interesting set of different offerings.

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, that's a great question. You know, fundamentally, I think this also goes back to the point I was making earlier, like, I start with the customers. And in our case, as you described, there's lots of different types of customer segments. So it is not an easy task, given sort of this varied audience and segments. So one of the big things that we needed to do culturally inside the company is we had to work hard and creating a consistent approach in figuring out what products and experiences make sense for each of these users. So we built with this sort of a culture around a process called product market fit. So we often use a notion which is like nail it, and then scale it. So I think So fundamentally, it starts with the notion of who is the customer? What are their unmet needs? How can Coursera offer a unique value proposition with a great product solution that addresses these needs? So with this process, I think we've started kind of then unpacking what are some of the products and services that we can offer to each of these As individuals, right, and so think about the learners to your point, career advancement, career advancement means a lot of it is around here, not only building the knowledge and the theory, but also being able to apply. And so that's where sort of a hands on experiences kind of came into play, you mentioned go to projects is an example of Coursera Labs is another big example. When I think about the educators, you know, they started by creating these courses, and we vault into professional certificates, which are bundles of courses. But the courses also have not only the theory, but also these hands on experience is built into these professional certificates. And when we think about professional certificates, they're really aligned with a particular job and a role like GOOGLE IT support professional certificate or IBM Data Analyst are so meta social media marketing, right? So there's sort of this job aligned relevance certificates are machine learning, which is sort of here from Stanford, and you know, deep learning from Deep Learning Institute, etc. So when you look at, like, Hey, these are all the skills that are in demand from the learners and from the institutions, that's the stuff that educators want to create, and ultimately fall online degrees. So we needed to kind of evolve our product experience in a way that could scale from a single course, to hands on into full degree. And when you get into the full degree, you're really replicating the in class experience, right, both synchronous and asynchronous experiences. And then institutions, I think it also evolved over time, you know, we didn't just say on day one, like, Oh, we're gonna go after all these enterprises and government agencies and you know, other universities who might be able to leverage a lot of this content into their curriculum. And stuff evolved over time as we looked at the common institutional leads and sort of the market trends. And then we started building products and experience on them.

Alexander Sarlin:

So you mentioned that the degrees are a sort of combination of individual classes, but they involve, you know, real time learning and some live components. And, you know, some people use the term stackability. When it comes to some of these online offerings. I'd love to hear you just talk about how the product line is sort of stackable, and how students try to put together sort of catalogs of educational experiences. Yeah,

Unknown:

you know, that's a great question. I think, you know, one of the sort of the emerging trends in education space is the notional stackability, for sure. And what it basically means is, you construct a modular way of learning that builds into bigger learning, right? Meaning, you start with a small course, that is, let's say you're interested in in pursuing a data career. And so you could start with a a machine learning course, or a data analyst course. And you kind of see that, oh, this is, this is something I love, actually, I would love to do it, I want to make a career out of this, rather than just committing out upfront. And what it allows is like you can try before you buy or try before you commit for the long duration, right. But the other thing is, your learning is not going to the wayside, meaning the certificates and credentials you're learning along the way builds into a bigger credential over time. And so that's why I think it's a very interesting model. So we have a number of programs like including degree programs, for example, University of London's Bachelors in computer science program, in a offers for credit, anyone who has completed a Google IT support professional certificate. And so this is the thing like so you are maybe a career switch, or you may be in retail industry, and you're frustrated with a retail job. And you're like, you know it careers are exciting, better lifestyle, more pay, I want to pursue that. But it feels like starting with a Bachelor's in Computer Science definitely may be daunting for you to think of right. And so now when you come to Coursera, you start with this GOOGLE IT support professional certificate, knowing very well that if you like this, that learning that you've done investment, time and money and effort, and getting the credential, knowing very well that that's, you know, valid for few credits on University of London's bachelors computer science program. So that's kind of what's happening. And we see I don't have the exact number here. But a fairly good percentage of these Google it supercomputers end up in applying to these Bachelors in computer science program at the University of London. So that's an exciting way to think about like how you build your own pathway and an education model that can start small but can grow big

Alexander Sarlin:

100% That's really well well explained. It's an exciting model. You know, you're mentioning the grow with Google the google it certificate, which is in my understanding one of the most popular online courses in the world. Most completed we actually had Elizabeth Arriaga from EDS media on the podcast number of months ago who was a I'm one of the you to help make those courses. And, you know, I think they've really been a game changer for professional learning. But actually want to ask you about another I will come back to grow with Google. But another course which is, you know, every year Coursera publishes a list of the most popular courses. And Yale's the science of well being by Professor Laurie Santos has placed on the top of the list for three years in a row. I think it has over 3 million learners. It tell us about that course. And why you think that particular course has gone viral right now?

Unknown:

Yeah, it's a great question. I think. And I love this course, I was fortunate enough, I think two years ago, three years ago, and our Coursera conference, Laurie did the Fast Track origin of that course live at the conference. So I ended up doing that. It's an incredible course. And for me, as I think about it, because of the times in the world that we live, I think everything changed with pandemic. And government is we needed to kind of search for balance in our lives in a different way. We all of a sudden, we've all found ourselves stuck in our homes, working remotely. And the social connection or the social context kind of got lost on in so we all needed, like I think personally to get a really look deeper in ourselves. Because like, what is mental wellbeing and health mean for all of us? And so I think, you know, Laurie being like an amazing psychologist, and Yale, you know, well known for this, this course really outlines research backed ways to increase personal happiness, but also establish good habits. And so that's, I think, one of the fundamental reasons why I feel like it was so huge enrollments for the course, during the pandemic, especially, you know, starting March, April 20, it was the highest course, it's got peaks like crazy. And to your point, like, as of today, actually, they've been well over 4 million enrollments and highly rated by learners. And I think, you know, when when you think about soft skills, and communication and health kind of speaks to a lot of that,

Alexander Sarlin:

I remember, seeing the numbers on that course, start to take off the beginning of the pandemic, and then it just went totally viral. It's so interesting. So, you know, outside of, of grow with Google, and the and the science of well being, what are some of the other big patterns? In course, popularity? What subject areas? Do you see people gravitating towards? You mentioned a couple before, but I'd love to hear your take on that.

Unknown:

Yeah. So when I look at across our content and the consumption of the content on the platform, the top three tend to be business technology and data science. And it seems like okay, why? Why do we think those are the top three domains? Well, those are relevant for in demand jobs and in demand careers and skills, right? If we think about machine learning, AI, data science, security, cloud, IoT, mobile, so on, so forth. And so it's not surprising when you look deeper, like what courses specific courses that have been popular, besides talking about the Google stuff is machine learning from Stanford, says, well, being user experience and design, technical support, learning how to learn, and this is one of my favorite courses. I mean, it's like evergreen, I keep pushing it to my kids hips. form of learning how to learn this, is that when you look at like the world where we live, it is essential. Everybody embraces lifelong learning, the technology is changing rapidly, skills are changing rapidly. So fundamentally, how you can adapt and how you want to learn and how we want to change and grow is important, at least for career development. This is kind of talking about sort of the the softer skills and and sort of development of communication wise. So this is from UPenn programming for everybody. And it's one of my most favorite courses to Dr. Chuck, getting started with Python, University Michigan, asking questions to make data driven decisions. So these are all the things that I see as the courses now. Also, I talked about sort of different trend with like over the last few years with career switchers and starters coming to Coursera. As a result, we're seeing a lot of demand for entry level professional certificates, as well. And one of the most interesting things I think, and I'm happy to see this is increased gender parity in enrollments across the content across this content, including career related related concepts. Because you know, from our global survey report, we see 37% of STEM corps enrollments were them in first half of this year versus 31% in 2019. So from a pre pandemic to like sort of the fast forward to three years 43% of the entry level certificate enrollments were women in the first half of this year versus 25% in 2019. So these are significant shifts. We're seeing And we just this other thing I just came up and read, we just released this in report, working with IFC, women and online learning and emerging markets. Fascinating aboard, I would recommend anyone to go to Coursera. And kind of check out our blog to get to this report, because it goes into detail how women and underrepresented groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and automation, with technologies creating jobs. And so the real point is, how can we provide enable access to flexible, affordable and fast track learning for women, in underrepresented groups in these countries to take on and get on with this technology careers,

Alexander Sarlin:

we will provide links to that report and other interesting pieces of the Coursera blog in the show notes for this episode. So you can find them there. I think that sounds really interesting. I have one more question for you from a sort of product perspective, which is that, you know, Coursera has been continually launching new products, new offerings for quite a while there, the guided projects, you mentioned the integration of Reim labs and Coursera, labs, skills, benchmarking a lot of enterprise products so that businesses can see how their employees are placing. And even, you know, right at the beginning of the pandemic, there was really interesting, you know, that way for universities to map their existing curricula to the Coursera catalog and offer online learning, these are all really exciting. And I'd love to hear you know, you're welcome to talk about anything, but the Coursera sort of core experience has been throughout this time has been relatively fixed. And I'd love to hear you talk about some of these new products, but also how you see the core Coursera experience. And if you see any changes on the horizon,

Unknown:

yeah, fantastic question. You know, as you go, the old the old mantra, if it ain't broken, don't fix it. You know, when I think about the brilliant Zophar founders, Daphne and Andrew kind of thinking about designing the learning pedagogy, I think they've done a tremendous job, right, you know, just breaking it down into small components. You can learn assess feedback, learn, assess feedback. And I think that's, that's brilliant, like, because that's so people work, right. That's how you learn. You don't want to spend a lot of time and then wait for this exam at the error. Like, did I even get it? Right? So sort of the feedback based learning mechanism, I think is essential. So now with that said, I think we're we can, you know, to? To address your question, there are a few things I think about first is this sort of the idea on career skills and employability, really, essentially enabling learners to not only gain the theory, and the knowledge with the certificates, but also to be able to showcase their job ready experiences, hands on experiences. So clearly, you mentioned courses, together projects, etc. But that's great. But how do we actually extract the value out of that for learners to get a build a portfolio that they can take to a potential employer? So that's where because we're observing the learner as they go through the course learning experience in lots of different ways. You just like, how often they're missing the deadlines, how often they are taking the, you know, talking to other people in the community, and how often they're answering the questions how offer, you know, they're not getting the different sorts of questions, different types of levels of assessments, etc, right? So we can we not only use that to provide a lot of feedback to the learner, but also help them build a portfolio of both the you know, the hard skills and soft skills. The second piece is personalization, I think is a big opportunity. When you think about your own experience, the buyer experience. Learning is personal. Everybody, you know, there's there's a core like, you know, model, but learning is personal motivation is personal. And so can I, what energizes you? How you construct, have your setup time during the day? What devices do you use when you use etc, it's very personal. And so what we're doing is, as we look at an observed that learner behavior, our platform, how can we create more personalization, so we can actually match the right product, the right sort of getting the right project, etc, with the right learner for the right need, right? That's a big, big option. The other way to think about it is life cycle of learning, meaning like, you know, to the point of our stackability, you may start with something small, and then you come back and do bigger Think bigger, think bigger thing. But when we understand, you know, the pathway you're on, we can actually also kind of keep offering you more things over a period of time. And I think of us like lifelong learning. Once we know you're getting into a data analyst career, we can actually start giving you more and more data loss related stuff down the road, right as new content comes into play. So that's, that's a big area and associated with that is what I call is active learning. So to your point, we have a lot of active learning concepts in our degree product experience, right? So through slack and for projects in a collaborative projects through zoom for live synchronous experiences, in through the TAs and faculty helping with coaching sessions and mentor sessions, etc, I see a real opportunity to kind of replicate a lot of that active learning into the broader learning itself, right, not just for courses, but professional certificates, all these places. And then thinking about like, how do we keep you motivated through the learning journey itself. So we're, we call as like Coursera. In course coach that kind of looks at where you are and provides you go goal setting and nudges along the way to kind of help you move through the course. So that found sort of the learner personalization, etc. The other thing is like, we're actually working with University of Michigan on this XR enhanced content program. Interesting. There's a blog post, again, we can link to it is around immersive learning experiences, it's going to come in 2023, it's gonna have a number of courses that are going to take advantage of the XR technology. And most recently, to think, of course, has been the monarch as you, as you said, for the longest period of time. And it continues to be the sort of construct that we use, but of course, has modules, modules have lessons lessons of what we call us items. And the items are like, you know, videos, lecture readings, quizzes, assessments, etc. So what we said is like, especially when it when we looked at the enterprise world, the employees are always busy. So there are times where you want to spend a lot of that rigorous time to kind of get to the deep skilling. But there are times where you just want to know the concept and move on. And so we recently launched what we call as Coursera. For business Eclipse. Eclipse, essentially, is for short form learning, it today offers 10,000, plus bite sized videos and lessons. And essentially, this is a think of it as like a deep index into the courses. But now the concepts are easily accessible. And now we've taken what is turned out to be like a 10 hour course you can consume in like 20 minute 10 minute chunks,

Alexander Sarlin:

really interesting. So just to synopsize There's so much interesting, so many interesting ideas in what you just said. So Corsairs, thinking about portfolios and ways for learners to showcase what they've done on the site in a way that may be relevant to their career, thinking about personalization and activity and how to match the right offering to the right learner at the right time throughout their lifecycle, thinking about taking some of the active learning pedagogy that's in the high touch degrees offering and offering it in other parts of the platform, including certificates, thinking about AR and VR, or you know, you mentioned XR extended reality, and doing some pilots next year. And some versions of micro learning or short form learning, especially on the b2b side, where you have these very busy, professional learners who just want to cut to the chase and get actionable insights may not have time for a full course, that's a lot of innovation,

Unknown:

a lot of innovation. And it speaks to the idea of the complexity of our platform. But I think what we try to do is gonna break it down into sort of real needs of the individuals.

Alexander Sarlin:

Yeah, it seems like a theme is, you know, looking at this idea of the career starters, career Advancers, career switchers, every product development is trying to sort of map to these learners with what they need most. So let's talk a little bit about the certificates. It's come up a few times. And I think it's really one of the most interesting stories in the last few years for Coursera Coursera started out people who know the origin story by offering courses from universities, it was partnered with Princeton, and Stanford. And in recent years, some of the biggest offerings are actually collaborations with companies like Google meta IBM, I think Amazon is on there, a lot of major companies is Salesforce to offer professional certificates. Tell us about how these skill oriented corporate partnership program started. And what you sort of see on the platform in terms of the skill certificates alongside the traditional MOOCs from universities?

Unknown:

Yeah, it's a great question. And I think it also speaks to how education needs to continue to evolve, even including in your traditional higher ed institutions. Right. I think what we continuously hear is there's a lot of demand that is emerging for in demand sort of the new digital skills, right, one of the Microsoft reports said, there's gonna be about 150 million new jobs by 2025. And when you look at like, Okay, well, what are those jobs? And what are the skills that are required for these jobs? Well, it turns out like, you know, they're in software development, they're in cloud or in data analysis. They're in cybersecurity, their privacy and trust, their digital transformation, which is like, which is basically you take any classic role, and now you add data like, right, so you take marketing and data driven marketer. So there's a lot of need for these jobs and and there isn't enough talent or enough supply, you look at the unemployment rates in technology, especially in these emerging fields. It's I think, unify, right? It's like under 2%, which is basically considered 100%. Employment. At that point, you can't find people. And that's a struggle the world is having. But that's on one side. The other side is pandemic, I think, really opened the doors for remote work, right, I think every company is embracing remote work, and will meant is you're starting to hire people from all over the world, you're not restricted to just one geolocation. So then the question becomes well, okay, so there's demand. And there's opportunity that has now equaled around the world. So where do they go get the right skills to actually be ready for these jobs, and in a way that can fast track them into these careers into digital careers. So it's not like purely a four year degree. And so that's where I think this innovation came into play. For us. I think, as we started talking to the out of these technology companies, it is like, you're closer to the jobs, you understand the skills, you understand the pain of not having these people on the platforms, and you hear those from your own customers that you're trying to serve. And so they've all kind of risen to this occasion to kind of say, hey, you know, let's go build content and certifications that can actually help the world by teaching these skills. And so I think it's like, you know, one plus one plus one is like, you know, like, 50 kind of thing here, like all of these things converge. And I think as a result, what we have really understood this trend and sort of building towards this. So what's exciting is, you know, a few months ago, we announced this launch of Career Academy, Career Academy basically brings all these certificates together, and it offers a role based discovery and training to prepare learners are these in demand careers. You mentioned Google. But today, we have over 24 Professional certificates that prepare these learners into about 18 different roles and careers today, entry level jobs, and our expectations. And we were continuously adding more and more certificates and more and more roles. And these are in those fields, data analytics, cloud project management, sales, operations, marketing, accounting, etc. So I'm excited. I think, you know, especially with a sort of a lot of the service industry, jobs and lower end jobs are at risk of automation. For the next few years, a lot of people are frustrated with the current jobs, and this global opportunity. And employers need these people. I think we're in sort of the right time, right place to kind of help this learner base.

Alexander Sarlin:

Really interesting, you know, the education investor, Ryan Craig, who writes about MOOCs and about workforce development, published something this week in his newsletter about how he was originally somewhat suspicious of some of these companies that were going into creating content and putting it out to the world and saying, hey, you know, it's not enough for Google or Microsoft or Salesforce to just put content out in the world that won't get people the jobs, but in and of itself, and his column this week was, it won't do it in and of itself. It's, you know, necessary, but not sufficient. But now people are starting to find the other pieces of the puzzle, helping students get through this type of online content and actually get the job. So he published a little bit of almost like a test I was wrong about about this. I think it's been incredible to see some of these companies come up alongside amazing universities.

Unknown:

I know. It's also I think, when we think about our platform, we're basically creating an opportunity for university and industry to collaborate. Yes, that's kind of the way I think about this, which is not it's not about displacement of one versus the other. It's actually complementing each other for what you're good at, in both ways. But ultimately, you need to think about that learner, like whether it's this student who is restoring their lives and stuff, switchers are our ambassadors. But the fundamental thing is, they all care about employability. Right. So I know universities get a lot of poverty industry gets what employability because they need people and individuals care when employability gets. To me, I think I love sort of this innovation that's happening in this ecosystem here, which kind of brings these parties together, in my view, and not to the benefit of the world.

Alexander Sarlin:

Absolutely. So I want to pivot a little here and ask you to put on your sort of business revenue hat for a couple of questions. Because, of course, there's been in the news recently, and there's been some all sorts of interesting things happening over the last 18 months. So I'd love to just chat a little bit about them. I think our listeners would find this really interesting as well. So Coursera went public in 2021. And in the last, you know, 18 or so months, the valuation has gone up and down pretty dramatically, partially in response to a giant lift during the pandemic. And then sort of coming back down post pandemic, I want to ask, you know, what do you see as Coursera as main societal role going forward? And how is it going to continue to grow and reach new learners and audiences in the future?

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, great question. So I think of like, through all of this, our mission is still the same, our mission has not changed. And the mission is to provide universal access to world class work. And so that's what kind of powers us day in day out to come to work, and really focus on that. And so I mean, obviously, we've had an interesting times in the last two, three years, even before we go public, through pandemic, for example, in 2020 30 million new voters showing Coursera. So that's 4x increase for consumer letters, and 5x for business letters, and 9x for our government learners. With that said, you know, we're continue to add about 5 million learners every quarter, like in the last few quarters that I can recall. So fundamentally, the world is in a different place, pre pandemic, to the post pandemic, there is need an appetite and adoption of online learning as a platform for people to advance their careers. So I feel like and I think for us, when I think about, we talked about 85 million, but we've also McKinsey, the couple years ago published, there's gonna be over a billion people are expected to enter the workforce population, what's the next 10 years, there aren't enough physical institutions in the world that serve the needs of that bigger population, to develop these skills in the right areas, right. And so platforms like Coursera, are essential. And if we focus on our mission, really, which means that really develop deep understanding of their customers, their needs, and kind of where the world is headed in terms of the skills and the gaps. And if we can work with the right partners in our ecosystem, to provide the right content experiences, I think that's how we're going to continue to grow and scale right. Another example, I can think how we think about living our mission is also through our social impact programs. We work with over 100 nonprofit partners all over the globe, our 135,000 learners, that includes like refugees, and veterans and justice impacted, underserved high schoolers that are going through leveraging the social impact programs, we have financial aid and scholarships, and that's continuing to offer ways for people who cannot afford to get access to this high quality education. So I think that's super inspiring. When you think about how many ways we can help live our mission.

Alexander Sarlin:

Yeah, it is an exciting vision. And I think Coursera has become one of a relatively small number of ad tech companies that not only is public but as also, really in the public consciousness all over the world, there are not that many ad tech companies that people truly know, everywhere. And with that billion new people with all of the expansion, the continuing changes in technology, I think it could be really well positioned to be the, you know, employment pipeline, online space for for many, many people. So we're recording this, you know, in August of 2022. And very, very recently, there's been some extra dramatic pressed for the MOOC and online program management space to you, which is one of course, there's close competitors, especially in the degree space. But edX, which is one of the Coursera is main competitor in the massive open online course space. For $800 million into you just announced a major strategic pivot, they're basically turning the company into edX as the main platform, they announced major layoffs. FutureLearn at British MOOC platform is having some monetary problems and and we've seen a little bit of, you know, reduced earnings expectations from Coursera. What is your take on all the current drama and the future of the sort of Moog OPM landscape?

Unknown:

Yeah, you know, it's always hard when you can look through sort of the micro lens and and just kind of think it was like, hey, short term, short term perspective, right. And so we always think about the long range opportunity in the long range vision. So when I think about that, and stepping back, is goes back to this idea, right, your exploration of online learning during the pandemic, the transformation of higher education has just getting started because I think pandemic at least accelerated that to some degree, but I think it is still going to be slow, and they're going to take time, and they need to continue to evolve. And so we're managing for this long term opportunity. Now, what does that mean? So broadly, when I think about that, we're seeing A global increase in demand for online education, both from individual and institutional learners, as well as the universities, you can see more degrees are going online, right, that are evolving to meet this need. So we're talking about a billion people potentially, to need to be educated, you got to go more and more online. And so that's I think there's going to be continuous trend. So this is what I was talking about earlier, consistently, we've been adding 5 million new registered learners for the past several quarters. And that's two times the pre pandemic average. So that's a way to kind of validate, are we just kind of hit or drink our Kool Aid? Or is this like really kind of what's happening in the world? I think it is what's happening in the world. Second is I do expect to be a variety of models that adapt and evolve to meet this demand, right. But we do believe in this platform approach, which does provide this global region size and scale, and a diversified portfolio for offerings. That's what you know, is kind of how I think of this. This is a system that works together. And so as a result, we can lean into the growth levers, given how diverse is business, whether it's consumer or degrees or enterprise. And so that way, it kind of covers the ground a broad spectrum of opportunities. So with, you know, just specifically, you know, talking about the near near term dynamics, I think there's a macro economic factors that are not necessarily in our control a lot of times and, you know, if you put that sort of long range hat, I'm absolutely confident that you know, will continue to grow and scale.

Alexander Sarlin:

So speaking of the rise of online learning, a recent McKinsey report stated that online learning has become more popular than ever before, especially coming out of the pandemic, and that there are four market forces that are shaping the growing demand for it. One is increased competition with more players, too, is consolidation by a handful of big online players, including Coursera. Three is a big influx of edtech investments over the last few years. And four is a rising standards for what quality looks like. Yeah, I'd love to hear your thoughts on those market forces.

Unknown:

Yeah, this is a fantastic question. I think we would largely agree with the McKinsey findings. And so at Coursera I think I do think we have some unique attributes and assets to serve learners that are more challenging in mind. One, you know, we serve learners no matter what stage of their career, right, so we talked about starters, switchers, and Advancers, with professional serves specializations, and bachelor's and master's degrees. So we can meet the learners, no matter what, you know, step in their learning journey, our courage. Our second is our content and credentials are created by world class educator partners, right, including the top university and industry leaders we talked about. So we believe sorted to the point but quality, you know, the quality, how do you determine quality? How do you trust that? Can I really learn from this platform to bet my career, my job or my promotion on this? Well, you you could do that when you know, there's like high quality content through branded recognized institutions that are delivering that credential. So I think that's absolutely critical. And that's also what is critical for I think employers is a signaling mechanism, right. And third is we're continuously and rapidly expanding our catalogue of these entry level professional certificates. This has been a major growth driver in our consumer segment. And I'm really excited that it's not just for consumer segment with the launch of the Career Academy. We've launched it for all our Coursera for campus institutions, so they can take advantage of offering it to their students and create more employability opportunities. And I think this is a great combination of the industry coming and working with like university. And so you'll also continue to see this crossover, we talked about stackability, where these industry standards get built into the university education model. And I think that's, I think one of the key emerging trends, I feel like I think where we can back on and we're very uniquely positioned position to do so.

Alexander Sarlin:

Yeah, you mentioned how the google it cert can be used for credit at the bachelors degree of for the University of London. And that is really feels like something very, very new in education that you can get credit for learning from a variety of entities, including corporations, and you know, cutting edge technology companies, and then use it towards degree programs or certificate programs from other high quality providers. It's a pretty exciting world. So we're coming on time. Unfortunately, I would love to at least 100 More questions I could ask you. But we always end the podcast with two questions. One is what is the most exciting trend that you see right now in the EdTech landscape that you think our listeners should keep an eye on?

Unknown:

Yeah, so I'll just say very quick three words, stackability, employability lifelong learning. Those are the three key things that I think I'm excited about it. That's where I think you would want to focus on.

Alexander Sarlin:

Got it. And what is one book or blog, it could be a Twitter feed newsletter any resource that you would recommend for somebody who wants to dive deeper into the topics we discussed today. And that's, you know, we'll put the links to all the Corsair reports and blogs, but what else would you recommend?

Unknown:

Yeah, it's interesting. You mentioned Ryan Craig. I think one of the books I've actually reading also is this concept of is actually a little older book like four years old maybe now with this, I should read as was the newsletters too, but it's the a new you faster, plus cheaper alternatives to college. I think it's when you think about the rising cost and the degrees and how education needs to be more related employability. There are some lots of these concepts get kind of discussed in this book, as well. Yeah,

Alexander Sarlin:

I think that is a fantastic suggestion. There are reports out just today about how the faith in universities has dropped faster than any other institution in the last couple of years. And we're seeing fewer and fewer regular college applicants fewer and fewer people saying college is worth and I think that book, I knew you was really prescient about the increasing dubiousness of there only being one way to get a middle class job. So I love that suggestion. As always, we'll put links to all of these resources in the show notes for this episode. Shavon goalie fascinating interview. Thanks so much for being here with us on Ed Tech insiders.

Unknown:

Thank you. Thank you, Alex. Appreciate the opportunity.

Alexander Sarlin:

Thanks for listening to this episode of the EdTech insiders podcast. If you liked the episode, remember to subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you're listening on Apple, please leave a rating and review so others can find the podcast. For more ed tech insiders content subscribe to the EdTech insiders newsletter at edtech insiders.substack.com