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Coursera Doubles Its University Partners and Goes International

Posted on the 21 February 2013 by Sandislin @ed_republc

Exciting news from Coursera today as reported in VentureBeat, the Wall Street Journal, and The Next Web. With this announcement, Coursera is now working with 62 universities and will soon offer classes in French, Italian, Chinese, and Spanish. I noticed Coursera also rolled out a new left-column navigation today that helps users filter by language and category. It’s interesting to see the different angles being taken between Coursera (a for-profit company spun out of Stanford) and edX (a non-profit platform offered by MIT and Harvard). Coursera is clearly going for scale and selection by signing up as many universities as possible. To date, edX has prioritized quality over quantity by partnering with top-tier schools and offering classes from ‘celebrity’ professors like Walter Lewin and Eric Lander. Only 24 courses are offered on edX right now, compared to Coursera’s 323. Yet, both platforms are arguably offering the same product  (open online course distribution) and competing for the same universities and end users. My take is that the two strategies reflect the for-profit/non-profit natures of each organization. Coursera’s long-term revenue model is likely based on course tuition and certification. To sustain their business, they’ll need to build significant traffic and scale - hence the current land grab strategy. In contrast, edX’s stated mission is to create a new learning experience and to research how students learn. While they still need users to accomplish this,  they don’t need to build the same scale as Coursera, and can thus focus on the most popular offerings. Current score: 700K over 24 courses for edX, 2.7MM over 323 courses for Coursera. The clear winners are going to be worldwide e-learners. It seems like every day brings more online learning selection just waiting to be discovered.

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