learning and development

The power of learning and development (Pexels)

Latest research findings from Coursera show how learning and development is critical for businesses and employees in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

The spread of coronavirus has profoundly affected the way companies operate. In a matter of days, organisations around the globe have had to transition to remote working. The sudden change has come with its challenges but businesses are making great efforts to ensure the wellbeing of their employees is not overlooked. Learning and development can be a powerful source of support and empowerment in this respect. 

In fact, evidence suggests it already is. In the last 30 days, there was a 700 per cent increase in total employee learner enrollments on Coursera for Business, our enterprise platform, compared to the same period one year ago. There’s a lot we can learn from the emerging trends among these learners. They provide insights on what a learning and development (L&D) plan tailored to our COVID-19 needs should consider. So let’s take a closer look at some of these trends.


During this period, we’ve found many businesses offering employees opportunities to invest their time in developing themselves professionally. Over 950,000 learners have signed up to data science, business and technology courses on our platform in the last three months, boosting their skills to stay productively engaged. The most popular courses in these domains don’t differ drastically from those a year ago. Machine Learning from Stanford University, Programming for Everybody from the University of Michigan, and Financial Markets from Yale University appear to be the most popular courses both in the last 30 days and in the last year. 

What has changed is the number of learners enrolled in these courses. Machine Learning received nearly three times more learners in the last 30 days than in the same period last year, Programming for Everybody more than ten times their 2019 figure, and Financial Markets increased its learner enrollments by 1,130 per cent. 


As employees adapt to a virtual world of work, learning also serves as a catalyst for hope and adaptability. There are many online courses employees have been taking to help with this transition. For example, Communication Strategies for a Virtual Age from the University of Toronto has seen a 9,100 per cent increase in the last 30 days compared to the same period one year ago. 

Teamwork Skills: Communicating Effectively in Groups from the University of Colorado has seen a 14,800 per cent increase. From how to run effective and impactful meetings to how to improve group communication and teamwork, it’ll be exciting to see the role L&D can play in preparing us for the workplace of the future. 


There’s no denying that self-isolation is having a huge impact on everyone, emotionally and physically. Energy levels are low, and stress levels are high. We’re all seeking desperately to maintain our wellbeing one way or another. In this respect, we’ve seen many businesses rely on online courses as a way to provide their employees with helpful resources. It’s been particularly admirable to see this happening in the sports industry, with The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) partnering with Coursera to offer online learning to its players. 

The number of enrollments in personal development courses on our platform over the last three months has increased by 1,163 per cent compared to the same period last year. Some wellbeing courses have seen so much demand that they now feature among the all-time most popular courses on the platform. Yale’s The Science of Well-Being, with 2 million learners so far this year, is one of them.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to deliver truly effective and engaging learning experiences that amplify the success of one’s organisation, its services and its people. While we’re in full remote-working mode, it’s even more important to provide well-targeted content that takes into account what employees actually want to learn.