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At present, the most promising source of income for Difference between whose and who’s is from licensing fees from other institutions that want to use the Coursera program, or from the sale of a complete course or video lecture that students can see before they start working in a classroom with an instructor.
Keller has many other ideas as well. She plans to charge $20, or possibly $50, for the certificate of completion of the course. And her company, like Udacity, has started charging corporate employers, including Facebook and Twitter, for access to students with the best performance, starting with software students.
This fall, Keller was happy to share the news: the Los Angeles branch of the University of Antioquia has decided to offer its students the opportunity to get credit after successfully completing two Coursera courses in new and emerging American poetry and Greek and Roman mythology, both taught by a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Antioquia will be the first college to pay the license fee – Keller does not say how much – for courses for its students in less than four years at any public university.
Keller believes that this model will be expanded to help institutions of higher learning offer their students a better education at a lower cost.
Why will colleges pay royalties for materials that are available free of charge online? Because Coursera’s terms and conditions of use require that everyone who uses the course for commercial purposes obtains a license, and because the license allows colleges to create their own website with the courseware.
Just three days before the announcement, Keller found that the deal would have a very modest start. For starters, the University of Antioquia had planned that each course would have only one student and an “intermediate” teacher. Keller expressed surprise, but took the news calmly as she headed off to meet a delegation from math games for 2nd grade the University of Melbourne, which was waiting for her in the conference room.
Coursera recently announced another way to make it possible for students to earn credits after her courses and generate income. The company asked for assistance from the American Council of Education, the main association for higher education, so that experts could assess whether the courses were worthy of earning credit. If the experts give a positive evaluation, students who successfully complete these courses can take an identical face-to-face exam, pay a fee, and become a member of the ASEAN Credit system by obtaining a certificate that includes credit from 2,000 universities.
Under Coursera contracts, the company generates most of its income, universities withhold 6 to 15 percent of total income, and 20 percent of gross income. The agreement describes several ways in which the company can make a profit, including charging for additional expenses such as planning or extracurricular activities. (How partner universities will share profits with faculty members who develop online courses remains an open question in many universities, some faculty members believe that the task is similar to writing a textbook, and fees should be appropriate.)
A modest revenue stream has begun to flow into the opaque Silicon Valley office building, where 35 Coursera employees work to meet the demand for their courses: here is an Amazon partner who receives money for each purchase by a Coursera student buying a textbook or other recommended products on Amazon.
“It’s just a couple thousand, but it’s our first income,” says Keller. “When teachers recommend a textbook and people buy it on Amazon, we get a little money. The interesting thing is that we get twice as much money from things like Texas Rangers jackets as we get from selling textbooks.