Starting last week, Coursera is testing a pilot with a new format where all the course materials, including the videos, are behind a paywall. To access the course materials, students need to pay for the course or apply for Financial Aid.
According to Coursera, the reason they are testing out this format is to allow “partners who are interested in using this format to offer courses that include copyrighted material for which the partner must pay a per-user licensing fee, or that rely on group work that requires a high level of commitment from all learners for the duration of the course.”
Depending on certain metrics like enrollments, engagement, completion, and learner satisfaction, Coursera will make a decision on whether to expand this format to other courses.
At the time of writing this post, only one course has been launched under this new format. It is La négociation salariale from École Polytechnique. The other courses that will be soon moved to a paid-only model are:
Critical Perspectives on Management, from IE Business School;
Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling, from University of Houston System; and
Math Behind Moneyball, from University of Houston System.
EdX’s Professional Education
This is not the first time a MOOC provider has opted to offer a paid-only course. EdX has been running what it calls “Professional Education” courses since 2014. Microsoft, Wharton, Delft, MIT, ASU, and the New York Institute of Finance are some of the organizations that offer around 40 such courses on edX.
Pricing can be vary a lot for these courses, and it can be as high as $1,000.
Tackling the Challenges of Big Data — MIT Professional Education Courses.
One famous example was MIT’s Big Data course, which ran in March 2014 on edX. It cost $495 and had 3,500 participants from 88 countries.
EdX and MIT made more than million dollars from a single session of a four week course.
EdX and MIT made more than million dollars from a single session of a four week course. Given these numbers, it’s quite easy to see why Coursera’s partners are pushing them to offer paid-only courses.
The one big difference between edX’s “Professional Education” courses and Coursera’s pilot is that the edX courses are not eligible for financial aid.
Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.