The University of Colorado has generated about $110,000 since September from massive open online courses (MOOCs) because students are willing to pay for certificates of completion.
The CU system partnered with Coursera in 2013, producing dozens of courses for the MOOC provider, including several multicourse units on a single topic that have been particularly successful at earning revenue.
“A specialization is a cluster of courses that ends with a capstone project, and what Coursera has found—and we’ve found this, too—is that these specializations, these clusters of courses are really marketable and really valuable to people in the marketplace,” Deborah Keyek-Franssen, associate vice president for digital education and engagement for the CU system, said in an article for eCampus News.
The courses have been rated so highly that the business faculty on the Denver campus voted to accept a Coursera specialization certificate in data warehousing as a transfer credit that admitted students can apply toward the 30-credit master’s degree in information systems.
“That lowers the cost of attendance for students,” Keyek-Franssen said. “The business school understands that this is a way to recruit students into the program and they have full faith in the quality of the specialization because it’s been taught and is being built by their own faculty.”
The Boulder campus doesn’t accept certificates as transfer credits yet, but is looking into the possibility. Provost Russ Moore told eCampus News he needed “strong evidence” that students earning online certificates were getting the same level of instruction as those on campus, but does see the partnership with Coursera as a way to introduce people to the institution.
“In a way, it’s a different way of marketing what CU-Boulder has to offer on a broader scale,” he said. “[Professor] William Kuskin’s comic-book course, the first go-around, had 40,000 people sign up, so that’s a great way to get the word out.”