Summary:

Lectures from Stanford, Rice, Duke, UCSF and a dozen other schools are being made freely available worldwide in dozens of languages, thanks to a partnership between online education startup Coursera and crowdsourced captioning service Amara. All of the captions are contributed by volunteers.

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Crowdsourced captioning provider Amara announced a partnership with Coursera Monday morning that will result in volunteers transcribing and translating more than 1,200 lectures from Coursera’s partner universities. Lectures are being translated into dozens of languages, and Coursera’s co-founder Andrew Ng said in a release sent out Monday that this approach has been key to making the site’s content available to non-English speakers.

Coursera isn’t Amara’s first partner in the field of online education: The service, which was previously known as Universal Subtitles, launched a partnership with the Khan Academy last summer. The partnership with Coursera could take crowd-captioned education to the next level: Coursera has more than one million registered students, and it announced in July that its courses are already taken in 190 different countries.

Closed captioning has been getting more attention lately because of pressure from both disability advocates and regulators. Broadcasters and others distributing TV content online will have to start providing captions by the end of next month, the FCC recently decided. Video sites like Coursera aren’t bound to this mandate, but there are other benefits: Providing captions could not only help with the company’s international expansion, but also increase discoverability through search engines.

Amara started out as a project of the Participatory Culture Foundation, and has received $1 million in funding from the Mozilla Foundation and the Knight Foundation. The site offers tools for crowdsourced captioning, and its enterprise solutions have been used by companies like PBS and Netflix. Amara said on Monday that its tools have been used for more than 200,000 subtitles in the last year alone.

Image courtesy of Flickr user starmanseries.

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