Coursera, an online learning portal that offers 14 degrees and 3,600 courses from 190 university and industry partners, today announced that it’s acquired Rhyme Softworks, a self-described digital platform for hands-on projects. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said that Rhyme’s soon-to-be-expanded Bulgaria offices will extend Cousera’s capabilities by adding configurable assignments that run in pre-configured Windows or Linux environments.
“With Rhyme’s virtual machines, beginner to intermediate-level learners can follow along with self-paced or live guided sessions while simultaneously completing a project or assignment,” wrote Maggioncalda. “Rhyme truly embraces the concept of “learn by doing” and, moving forward.”
Coinciding with the announcement, Coursera took the wraps off of Coursera Labs, a feature that allows partners to make standalone or course-integrated programming projects using Jupyter Notebook, RStudio, VS Code, cloud software consoles, or almost any other native desktop app. In addition to programming, Labs enables educators to create custom apps designed to reinforce skills in business, marketing, and humanities.
The University of London, a pilot partner for Coursera Labs, added an app called Sleuth to its Computer Programming course that tasks students with writing code to solve interactive puzzles. Separately, the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois plan to tap Labs for upcoming Coursera content.
“Learners today not only want to grasp theoretical concepts, they also want to put their new skills into immediate use. The Sleuth game is a fun, interactive way for learners to test their understanding of the foundational programming skills we teach in the course,” said Dr. Mathew Yee-King, Programme Director, BSc Computer Science at University of London. “Using Coursera Labs, we were able to integrate Sleuth seamlessly into the learning experience, and we look forward to using this new capability to integrate more applied learning experiences into our online content.”
Labs will roll out broadly to Coursera’s full partner portfolio by the end of the year, according to Maggioncalda.
“As online learning continues to support workforce training on the job and at home, it’s important to provide engaging, hands-on experiences that enable learners to test their mastery of new skills with the tools used in the workplace,” he said. “We look forward to Coursera Labs and Rhyme enhancing our partners’ courses to prepare more learners for jobs of the future.”
San Francisco-based Coursera — which recently raised $103 million at a valuation of $1 billion — was founded in 2012 by Daphne Koller, a Stanford University computer science professor, and former Baidu chief scientist and Google Brain veteran Andrew Ng. It competes with well-funded rivals like Udacity, which was launched in 2011 by Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor who headed Google’s Google X skunkworks, as well as Udemy.
Online education platforms are anticipated to grow from a $4 billion industry today to a $21 billion market by 2023.