At yesterday’s meeting, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved a statewide contract with Coursera, one of the largest online learning platforms in the world, to provide students, faculty and staff, and employers more opportunities for workforce and professional development at an affordable rate. Through the partnership, participating colleges and universities will have access to Coursera’s comprehensive catalog of thousands of job-relevant courses across business, technology and data science, among other fields.

In a ceremony during the State Regents’ meeting, Chair Jeffrey W. Hickman and Chancellor Glen. D. Johnson signed a contract with Coursera that will benefit 15 participating colleges and universities and the students they serve.

“Engaging the Coursera learning platform on behalf of 15 Oklahoma public and private universities and colleges is a tremendous opportunity to add value not only for Oklahoma higher education students pursuing degrees, but also for degree-holders to obtain micro-credentials, which increases employability and marketability, leading to increased personal income for Oklahomans,” said Hickman. “This partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma business and industry to meet our state’s workforce needs and bring even more value to pursuing an Oklahoma higher education is precisely the role we should be playing as the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education.”

The State Regents’ collaboration with Coursera will provide ongoing learning opportunities for learners through a singular subscription at an affordable rate, including courses focused on high-demand digital skills, interactive learning experiences through Coursera’s global community, and self-paced courses to complement campus-based coursework. Students will have options to earn industry-recognized credentials that institutions can combine with their course curricula to offer credit toward completion of a degree.

“Our partnership with Coursera ties directly to recommendations from the State Regents’ 2018 Task Force on the Future of Higher Education, which endorse comprehensive collaborations with the business sector to establish industry-recognized badges and micro-credentials that align with pathways to certificates and degrees,” said Johnson. “Oklahoma colleges and universities will be able to provide more opportunities for students, job seekers, and currently employed individuals to complete their degrees and earn certified credentials for high-demand jobs.”

During the signing ceremony, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Scott Mueller, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma President John Feaver, and Carl Albert State College President Jay Falkner spoke about the value of the partnership.

“We are honored to partner with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and leading universities and colleges throughout the state to help provide job-relevant skills for the digital economy,” said Maggioncalda. “Together, we will help thousands of students and faculty develop new digital skills, drive stronger job outcomes, and enhance academic innovation.”

“Our education system is one of the cornerstones of economic development,” said Mueller. “Companies want to grow in economies with a robust skilled workforce and the partnership with Coursera does just that. By increasing their skills, Oklahomans will be eligible for higher paying jobs, thus increasing our state’s per capita income. Also, our Labor Force Participation Rate currently lags behind the national average by 1.1%. With this partnership, Oklahomans that are not in the workforce can learn new skills to return to the workforce and provide for their families and the next generation of skilled workers in Oklahoma.”

Institutions participating in the Coursera for Campus partnership are the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University, Langston University, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Carl Albert State College, Connors State College, Eastern Oklahoma State College, Murray State College, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Northern Oklahoma College, Redlands Community College, Rose State College, Seminole State College, Tulsa Community College, and Oklahoma Christian University.

“The signing of this exciting agreement with Coursera marks a new beginning for our state system of higher education, expanding the potentialities for academic growth and enrichment on multiple fronts while providing new platforms for workforce development, research, and instructional design,” said Falkner, Chair of the Council of College and University Presidents.

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 87 million registered learners as of June 30, 2021. Coursera partners with over 200 leading university and industry partners to offer a broad catalog of content and credentials, including courses, Specializations, Professional Certificates, Guided Projects, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Institutions around the world use Coursera to upskill and reskill their employees, citizens, and students in fields such as data science, technology, and business. Coursera became a B Corp in February 2021.