When two Stanford University professors started Coursera in 2012, the focus was on building free online courses to bring teaching from elite colleges out to the world. Back then, the target market was people who couldn’t get to a traditional campus, and places like Stanford had little interest in teaching their own students via the online format.
But the pandemic has forced those selective colleges to embrace online learning like never before, and now all types of colleges are teaching online. So Coursera sees a new business opportunity: to sell the courses it developed to colleges that want to use them as part of for-credit courses for their own students.
Since March, Coursera has allowed any college to request free access to its library of course content for any of its students to use, with a free version of what it calls Coursera for Campus. And the giveaway led thousands of colleges to sign up, and “many tens of institutions” to start assigning parts of Coursera courses as part of for-credit classes, says Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera CEO. “It’s a little like courseware,” he added.
“I think that U.S. institutions are realizing, ‘Why am I trying to do this all myself?’” he adds. “They’re saying, ‘I can’t build this much online content. I can’t keep up with how fast things are changing. It’s a form of collaboration, I should actually take advantage of these other courses as part of my teaching program.’ And