The massive open online course (MOOC) provider, Coursera, announced today that 29 universities including UNC-Chapel Hill have signed on as partners to offer free classes to the public through their websites, doubling the company’s size.
Coursera began operating just last year, and in that short amount of time has registered 2.8 million users. While courses are currently noncredit and free, it appears Coursera’s business model will evolve as the company does have future plans to charge students interested in earning “certificates of completion.”
Duke University, which joined Coursera in 2012, plans to take part in their pilot program for fee-based courses. Many universities, however, may not be so quick to accept these certificates for credit. As David Szatmary, University of Washington’s vice provost for educational outreach, tells Inside Higher Ed, “Most of our peers probably wouldn’t take a free Coursera course certificate for credit.” He also said that the University of Washington would not sign certificates for their own free Coursera courses. “We obviously don’t want to compete with ourselves.”