Startup Coursera today announced it has raised $16 million and will expand its curriculum, a sign of how interest in online learning technology is heating up.
Silicon Valley venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers funded the company which was started by two Stanford University professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng.
Coursera offers online classes from Princeton University, Stanford, University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The classes are structured as videos between 10 and 15 minutes, punctuated with short quizzes and auto-graded exercises to help students grasp the material.
Coursera is part of a movement to put more university-level content online for free. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched its OpenCourseWare project ten years ago and this spring will allow students to take classes online for credit through an initiative called MITx. The Khan Academy, which offers material aimed at both adults and children, has attracted a big following and is now hiring software engineers, including Google's first employee, Craig Silverstein.
Kleiner Perkins investor John Doerr, who joined the Coursera board through the investment, told the New York Times that Coursera could make revenue by charging for premium services. "Higher education is ripe for innovation: it is too expensive and limited to a few," Doerr said in a statement.
Coursera said it has over one million people enroll in its online classes, which cover a range of topics in math, engineering, and social sciences.