Coursera today launched a new initiative with the US Department of State. Called Global Learning Hubs, the partnership aims to give students physical spaces where they can access the Internet to take Coursera courses online as well as work with others in a group setting, for free.

More specifically, Learning Hub locations will have more than just peer students working the same course. Local “facilitators” – as Coursera calls them – with knowledge on the subjects will lead in-person sessions that revolve around discussions, tutoring, and projects. In other words, Coursera is taking online learning offline.

As such, accessing online courses across Coursera’s catalog isn’t the only option: students can enroll in sessions for select courses. These will run parallel to the online course, but they will depend on the technology availability and meeting frequency at each location.

“We are excited to be partnering with Coursera,” Meghann Curtis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs at the US State Department, said in a statement. “Together, we hope that we can identify new models for blended online and in-person learning, offer students new skills and knowledge, and help connect them to U.S. higher education institutions.”

In addition to the US Department of State, there are a few other Learning Hubs partners that will be providing on-the-ground support with physical space for learning, reliable Internet access, and local course facilitators. These include Bluebells School International and Lady Sriram College, Digital October, Overcoming Faith Academy Kenya (in collaboration with PiCreate and Tucklets.org), Learning Links Foundation, TAPtheTECH, and LEARN. TT and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).

These partners will help bring Coursera’s Learning Hubs to more than 30 Embassies, American Spaces, campuses, and other physical locations worldwide. The locations include: Baghdad, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Chennai, Hanoi, Helsinki, Juba, Kyiv, La Paz, Lima, Manila, Mountain View, Phnom Penh, Port au Prince, Port Louis, Prague, Santiago, Seoul, Shanghai, Tbilisi, Kakamega, Moscow, Mumbai, and Port of Spain.

coursera hubs map Coursera and US Department of State launch Global Learning Hubs to bring online learning to the offline world

As you might expect, this is just the start. Coursera is hoping to grow the number of locations slowly but surely over the next few months and beyond. The education startup has already started looking for additional partners to host Learning Hubs within their own communities.

See also – Coursera partners with 13 new institutions to pass 100 total, eclipses 5 million students and 500 courses too and Coursera leaps another online learning hurdle, partners with Chegg and 5 publishers to give students free textbooks

Top Image Credit: Fred Kuipers