The idea behind massive open online courses (MOOCs) is that the courses are free to anyone interested in signing up. That has led to concerns about how companies offering MOOCs could give away their services for free and remain afloat financially.
Now, Coursera reports that it brought in $220,000 during the first quarter of 2013. The company has 3.2 million registered users, up nearly 700,000 since mid-February.
Part of that revenue came from an Amazon.com affiliate program that pays when students purchase books suggested by the instructor.
The other part of the money came from Signature Track, a program that allows students to receive verified completion certification for a nominal fee. By using Signature Track, students pay a fee ranging from $30 to $100, are tracked by their “unique typing pattern” to ensure they are doing the work, and receive end-of-course recognition from the university offering the class through the platform.
Some of the money collected from the fees will be shared with the universities, according to reports. Coursera is also trying to create ways to raise money through proctored exams and matching students with employers, plus is set to launch an app platform which will allow universities to add instruction tools to enhance their MOOCs.