Disclosure: Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Coursera Experiments with Letting Learners Create Courses

After institutions and individual experts, Coursera now lets their learners create free online courses.

Guided Projects: side-by-side workspace and video

Last year, for the very first time, Coursera allowed individuals or “subject matter experts” to create courses. Previously, only Coursera’s partner universities and institutions could do so. Coursera called these new courses Guided Projects.

Now, Coursera is taking it one step further by letting their learners create courses. Last month, they put out a call inviting learners to apply to create Community Guided Projects.

From Guided Projects to Community Guided Projects

Coursera Guide Projects: By the Numbers
Total Courses 1,500+
Total Enrollments 2.6 million
Average Enrollments 1690
Median Enrollments 244

Guided Projects were a product of Coursera’s $10M acquisition of the edtech startup Rhyme in 2019.

Rhyme’s software allows learners to use their browser to access virtual environments. These can be preconfigured to include all the tools needed for a project. Most notably, they include a side-by-side workspace and video instructions, making it easy for students to follow along.

In 2020, Coursera started calling Rhyme courses “Guided Projects” and launching them under the Coursera Project Network. These project-based courses cost $9.99 and generally take under two hours to complete.

Coursera product tiers
Coursera product tiers

Class Central noticed that in just a few months, Coursera’s catalog of Guided Projects expanded from 0 to over 1,000 offerings. In my analysis of Coursera’s S-1 Form (the company’s first step toward an IPO), I noted that Guided Projects were mentioned a lot: 27 times in total. This hints at their importance in Coursera’s plans for the future, which likely entail competing more directly with platforms such as Udemy (a provider that might also be eyeing an IPO).

Some of the first Community Guided Projects

Just like Guided Projects, Coursera’s latest initiative, Community Guided Projects, are built atop Rhyme’s software. But unlike them, Community Guided Projects are:

  • Offered by the Community Project Network, instead of the Coursera Project Network.
  • Offered entirely for free, instead of costing $9.99.

In the last two weeks, Class Central noticed that Coursera has been launching the first batch of Community Guided Projects, most created by one instructor. Over 1000 learners have signed up for these courses. At the time of writing, Coursera offers 10 Community Guided Projects.

Community Guided Projects: In Brief

In my analysis of Coursera’s 2020, I wrote the following about Guided Projects:

The topics (and potentially quality) seem all over the place. Some feel too small — like they should be part of a broader course. And some feel like they shouldn’t be courses at all…

But Coursera might disagree, considering they now offer over 1,500 Guided Projects, with the most-popular one raking close to 40,000 enrollments. Guided Projects are also included in Coursera’s catalog subscription, Coursera Plus.

If you’d like more information on how to apply to create your own course, you can find it here.

Dhawal Shah Profile Image

Dhawal Shah

Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.

Comments 1

  1. Eric Hrahsel



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. All comments go through moderation, so your comment won't display immediately.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Browse our catalog

Discover thousands of free online courses from top universities around the world like MIT, Stanford, and Harvard.

Browse all subjects