Coursera, a leading online educator, recently came out with a new type of search which allows users to search for a specific skill. With this search, a list of courses that deal with that specific skill, is generated. The new search was “built off a skills graph that maps skills to content.” Some of the skills that users would be searching for are so specific, that is very unlikely that they would be contained in descriptions of courses that relate to the skill. This new type of search was compared to Netflix’s framework for watch next recommendations. In fact, the previous director of product innovation at Netflix, is now the chief product officer at Coursera. The company is trying to get a leg-up on the competition such as Khan Academy with this new search ability. “The more preemptive leg work Coursera can do for its learners, the more likely they are to find the right content on their first attempt and stick around with high levels of engagement.”
What Coursera is doing is something that will prove extremely beneficial to both themselves and their customers in the future. By providing their customers with the ability to toggle to individual and quite specific skills, it will shorten the search time for courses, and help with narrowing down the options. At first it can be a bit overwhelming going on their website and searching for a course, but this new search option should make that process quite a bit smoother. Having this ability, will also attract employers and others in the work force to use it by eliminating the hassle of searching for sufficient training material. For those following a set track in order to gain the necessary skills for a particular job, this search will prove exponentially useful. Not having to sift through courses that do not have much to do what one is specifically looking for, will make it easier for them to choose a course and will free up more time for them to dive right into the material. The schools that have courses on the site are more than likely overjoyed by this advancement. It would be impossible to compare the same titled class from two varying institutions without actually taking the class. Now, a user would be able to search for specific skills under that subject and receive only classes that contain instruction on that skill. It is obvious that Coursera is really taking to heart what their customers want. They are trying to make their site as user-friendly as possible. This simple “skill-search” will undoubtedly increase their web traffic and the number of people taking their courses. It took a while for Khan Academy to add a general search bar for the site, so Coursera is learning from that and anticipating what will carry them into the future. The rate of transfer and application of skills from the course to the work environment is becoming increasingly faster and faster. It would not be surprising if employers began incorporating Coursera courses into their training curriculum. The same could be said for universities. In a course that requires pre-requisites, certain specific deficiencies a student has could be narrowly targeted with one or two Coursera courses.