The limits of open

Posted on February 3rd, 2016

Massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera has shifted its business model to include courses, called Specializations, which charge up front. Typically, learners can access courses for free, or pay a fee for a course certificate upon completion. In the newest Coursera offerings, learners can “explore” course materials, but must pay to turn the materials into an actual course. Some industry researchers see this as an example of for-profit MOOC providers, such as Coursera, clearly distinguishing themselves from nonprofit providers, such as edX. In a blog post, Coursera explained, “the changes…will move us toward sustainability and enable continued investment in our learning experience.” However, others see the company as “playing a short-term venture capital game” rather than focusing on improving access to education.