Coursera is an education technology for-profit company founded recently that is is “committed to making the best education in the world freely available to any person who seeks it” Coursera is similar in idea to the free online education website Khan Academy we blogged about, but there are some differences.
Coursera and participating schools each meet their own expenses, which are substantial on both sides. Any revenue stream will be divided with schools getting a small percentage of revenue and 20% of gross profits.Schedule 1 of the contract between Coursera and participating universities contains a “brainstorming” list of possibilities.
- Certification: The student pays a fee to the school which issues certification of completion or adequate performance in the course which Coursera makes accessible in a verifiable format.
- Secure assessment: Coursera, for a fee, provides testing and verification of identity at physical locations.
- Sale of information to potential employers: for a fee, and with student permission, access to a database containing information about students and courses they have taken is sold to enterprises.
- Assessment of competency: for a fee paid by a potential employer or educational institution Coursera would evaluate the competency of a student.
- Tutoring or evaluation of progress: for a fee an employee or contractor of Coursera provides personal attention, tutoring or evaluating a student’s work.
- Licensing or sale of the learning platform and courses to employers or schools for continuing education or course work, for example, at a community college.
- Sponsorship: For a fee, firms or foundation would sponsor courses. Only “non-intrusive” advisement of the sponsorship is contemplated.
- Tuition: after a free trial period tuition would be charged for full access to a course and materials. Another possibility is use of the platform and materials by on-campus, or on-line, students enrolled in the course at the sponsoring institution who are already paying full tuition; in which case a small fee would be paid to Coursera by or on behalf of each student.
The website provides free online courses in the fields of Computer Science; Healthcare, Medicine and Biology; Society, Networks and Information; Humanities and Social Science; Mathematics and Statistics; and Economic, Finance and Business and more to come soon.