Interesting summary of Coursera’s business model shift over the past 7 years.
Here is an earlier Class Central article on EdX’s paywall. https://www.classcentral.com/report/edx-paywall-graded-assignments/
What a trip down memory lane
It’s interesting to see how much the language around goals and values changes over the course of the article. As revenues increase, the language around learning for free, learning for everybody, etc. get sidelined in favor of sales numbers.
There are some great Coursera courses out there that we’ve relied on a lot over the years (UW’s public speaking comes immediately to mind), but I worry about the longevity of those courses. I’d love to hear more from the professors who created some of the early courses under the old mandate of “making the best education freely available”. What do they think about how the evolution of the platform their courses live in?
It is interesting that Coursera is a for-profit organization that at least still allows users to audit courses for free while EdX is a non-profit that has created a paywall with their “verified track”. This is from EdX’s About Us page:
“We were founded by and continue to be governed by colleges and universities. We are the only leading MOOC provider that is both nonprofit and open source.”
That is interesting - I think it goes to show that non-profits aren’t immune from needing a business model and, to the contrary, are often under more pressure than for-profit companies to figure out a way to make things work. In this case, the fact that edX is a non-profit, or that their software is open source, doesn’t mean much to learners who are trying to freely access courses.
I wonder if part of the difference is that Coursera could put off revenue/profitability in the hope that somewhere down the line they will be acquired, while as a non-profit, that isn’t an option for EdX?
I think that is a very good point Dirk. Unfortunately, that seems to be the modus operandi of many for-profit businesses these days.