One selling point of MOOCs (massive online open courses) has been that students can access courses from the world’s most famous universities. The assumption—especially in the marketing messages from major providers like Coursera and edX—is that the winners of traditional higher education will also end up the winners in the world of online courses.
But that isn’t always happening.
In fact, three of the 10 most popular courses on Coursera aren’t produced by a college or university at all, but by a company. That company—called Deeplearning.ai—is a unique provider of higher education. It is essentially built on the reputation of its founder, Andrew Ng, who teaches all five of the courses it offers so far.
Ng is seen as one of the leading figures in artificial intelligence, having founded and directed the Google Brain project and served as the chief scientist at the Chinese search giant Baidu, as well as having directed the artificial intelligence laboratory at Stanford University. He also happens to be the co-founder of Coursera itself, and it was his Stanford course on machine learning that helped launch the MOOC craze in the first place.
In fact, Ng’s original Stanford MOOC remains the most popular course…