- MOOC provider Coursera is making its courses available for colleges to include in their academic programs through a new platform called Coursera for Campus.
- The announcement follows a pilot in which more than 20 institutions worldwide used the new offering, which includes LMS and API integration and plagiarism detection.
- While Coursera is optimistic that the platform will fill a gap for colleges, how institutions will make use of it and other recent attempts to scale shareable, credit-bearing courses is uncertain.
Coursera's move follows the launch of Outlier.org in August and represents another attempt to standardize and scale colleges' core curriculum and offer institutions a means through which to provide instruction and training in emerging technologies.
The company will provide classes in pre-configured collections for fields such as engineering, data science and health. Institutions can offer those collections wholesale, substitute in other Coursera courses or add their own classes, the company explained in a blog post.
Leah Belsky, senior vice president of Coursera's enterprise business, said the company expects larger institutions will use the platform to provide multidisciplinary learning that complements their core academics. Smaller institutions, meanwhile, are more likely to use the platform to launch for-credit courses or programs in emerging fields such as data science, machine learning and design thinking, she said.
Belsky expects about half of Coursera for Campus' business to come from the U.S. It is starting annual licenses that allow students to access an unlimited number of courses at $400 per person. Volume- and geography-based pricing will also be available, the company said.
Accreditors' need for colleges to oversee and ensure the quality of their for-credit academic offerings has been the "principal obstacle" to using courses or content from other providers, said Robert Manzer, chief academic officer at College Consortium, which facilitates course-sharing among institutions.
And providing a plug-and-play online alternative to core curriculum may not fly at large institutions where massive introductory classes subsidize upper-level learning, said Phil Hill, co-founder of MindWires Consulting, in an interview with Education Dive in August discussing the launch of Outlier.org.
Still, Coursera for Campus represents "a watershed of sorts" for how MOOC providers expect to operate within higher education, Manzer said. To that point, Coursera and fellow MOOC company edX have begun offering degree and certificate programs with partner universities through their platforms.
"[T]he infrastructure of higher education ... is here to stay and is the primary vehicle by which students will be consuming educational pathways and they are looking to get into that existing arrangement," he said.
For Belsky, the platform allows colleges to tap into expertise to which they may not otherwise have had access. "Universities right now are not poised at teaching some of these emerging, career-relevant skills," she said.