The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Professors Can Set Their Own Price for Online Courses

A new educational platform allows professors to set the price charged for their course. Professor Direct establishes a base price of $49, with all additional revenue going to the instructor.

While Professor Direct prepares the core set of materials for the class, the instructor can decide on any extra services students are offered. Dan Gryboski, who has taken a year off from teaching at the University of Colorado to stay at home with his kids, is promising quick e-mail responses to all student questions, two hours of online office hours each week, and additional tutorial videos to supplement the materials for his two math courses.

“Students pay a premium to have professor contact,” Gryboski told The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Professor Direct is part of the service from StraighterLine, which provides paid, online, self-paced introductory courses that some colleges will accept for transfer credit. Udemy also allows instructors to teach courses for profit, but none of the company’s classes are approved for credit and most people teaching on the site are connected to a college or university.

David Janzen, associate professor of computer science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is one of the traditional instructors to use the Udemy service, charging $89 per student for his courses. His class is based on free videos available on his own web site, but he created additional instructional videos to help Udemy students work through the online labs.

“I’m charging them for the videos I’ve created,” he said, adding that he also gives free passes to the course to anyone he thinks can’t afford the tuition.

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