Caltech and Pennsylvania back on-line teaching company Coursera, which just won the praise of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Coursera, a US-based online teaching company, has raised $3.6m from universities Caltech and Pennsylvania. The company also said California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, UC San Francisco, University of Edinburgh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Toronto, University of Virginia and University of Washington have all signed agreements with Coursera to put their courses on-line for free. The company was also endorsed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who said on Twitter: "Terrific progress getting college courses online http://b-gat.es/NCf56D. Technology is game-changing here – need more pioneers like @Coursera." The company also secured further investment from existing venture backers New Enterprise Associates and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In April Coursera, which was set up by two Stanford University computer science professors, raised $16m from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates. Coursera said universities including Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, would be offering web-based classes on the Coursera platform for free. John Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins and Scott Sandell, general partner at New Enterprise Associates, joined Coursera’s board in April.

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