MOOC Spotlight: Coursera

For-profit education company Coursera was founded by two Stanford University computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in 2011 as a platform for delivering massive open online courses (MOOC). The company, one of the fastest growing MOOC providers in the world, has partnership agreements with 33 universities and community colleges and has over 2 million registered students from 196 countries.

Coursera offers more than 200 courses in 20 categories ranging from the humanities to medicine studies. As one of the largest MOOC providers in the world Coursera has been a magnet for criticism. In the last few months educators and students have expressed concern about the 7% to 9% completion rates in many of the classes offered through Coursera as well the reported instances of plagiarism in some of the writing intensive classes.


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After a year of considering multiple possible business models, Coursera’s leadership recently announced that they would create a revenue stream by creating an employment matching service. While Coursera won’t release the complete list of the companies it has partnered with, it has said that it has placed students with name brand tech companies like Facebook and Twitter.

Criticism has been lobbed at Coursera because the, approximately, $250,000 cost of developing a class that meets the company’s standards is passed on to the partner universities. However, the schools only receive between 6% and 15% of any revenue that those courses generate.

Currently, only Antioch University accepts Coursera courses for credit, but it is possible that more universities might begin accepting classes offered through Coursera. The American Council on Education decided to evaluate between five and 10 of the classes offered through Coursera for possible inclusion in its transfer credit recommendation service.

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