Coursera then and now

Coursera then.

  • Instructors had tens to hundreds of students in one course session
  • Automated grading was for the purpose of freeing up instructors to interact with the students
  • Coursera recognized and acknowledged that universities were their own institution and Coursera was just the delivery platform
  • Coursera headquarters was low-key
  • Coursera wanted to do what is best for students
  • Coursera focused on features to help non-paying students
  • Coursera did not focus on its bottom line
  • Coursera was not about money


Coursera now.

  • There are a lot less than that in course sessions now
  • Very few instructors interact with students on the Coursera platform
  • Coursera thinks it is its own institution and often refers to these courses as their own courses without giving due recognition to the instructors and universities
  • Coursera headquarters is up-scale
  • Coursera wants to do what is best for Coursera
  • Coursera focuses on features to try and get more people to pay and for people to pay more
  • Coursera focuses on its bottom line
  • Coursera appears to be all about money


Those elusive free MOOCs and free certificates

Are there any free MOOCs and free MOOC certificates?

Yes, there are, and for those looking to find them on Coursera here is a helpful article that explains how to enroll for free Coursera courses. The article states that “MOOC providers across the board have stopped offering free certificates for completing their online courses” but that is not the case. There is still at least one outlier on Coursera, and that is Modern & Contemporary Poetry offered by UPenn. The most recent information is that this course is absolutely free to everybody. There isn’t even a paying option even if you wanted to pay. Also, if you complete the requirements for that course, you will receive a certificate of completion. It comes directly from UPenn.

So it might be that MOOC platforms, such as Coursera and edX have stopped handing out free certificates, but the providers, meaning the creators, of MOOCs have not all gone that route. There was even an instructor on edX last year who sent an e-mail to participants of his course offering to send them an e-mail recognition of their completion since he knew edX would not offer a free record of their completion.

However, there are other ways to find free MOOCs where all the content is free and even be able to receive a free certificate for completing the MOOC. Sometimes courses offered on Canvas or SAP offer free completion certificates. Also, there are some universities and colleges that offer MOOCs on their own institutional systems using Moodle, or Blackboard, or another learning management system.

There are still free MOOCs and free certificates out there. You just need to look for them. There are other MOOCs besides those offered on Coursera and these other MOOCs are just as good and often better because the aim of those free MOOCs is educating, not profit-making.


Why your MOOC credential is likely not accredited

U.S. News and World Report offers some helpful guidelines to determine if you are in an accredited online program or not.

For those who might think that the MOOC they are taking is accredited, think again.

Unless you are receiving your credential directly from an accredited university, then your MOOC is not accredited. If your credential is issued by and comes from the MOOC platform, then it is not an accredited credential.

Why some MOOC websites are now nothing more than just another Learning Management System

They start out small and open. Then, as more people adopt them and the tool is extended to meet the additional requirements of the growing community of users, eventually things like access management and digital rights start getting integrated. Boil the frog. Boom. LMS.


If you build a great little educational app and it gets some traction in the market, sooner or later, somebody is going to say, “This is great, but it would be even better with an announcements tool.” And somebody else will say, “I’d really love to be able to have a place for class discussions.” And another user will chime and say, “Discussions would be great, but I’d like to grade student participation. Oh, and I also need an assignments list. Which would ideally show up in some sort of a calendar.”

On and on it goes. The app development team recognizes at some point that they are building features that are redundant to those of an LMS. But context is everything, and the users want these capabilities put in the right spot in the app, in the right way. So the developers keep building. And building. And building. Many of these features are not the ones that the developers think make their app great. But they have to be done. So they are. Often quickly and badly. And even if they are done well, the cumulative result is generally bad because the app was never designed to be an LMS and, after a while, all those unanticipated bolt-ons make an unholy mess of the user experience. Which the developers never have time to fix because they are always busy adding the next bolt-on.

Are FutureLearn enrollments decreasing?

It’s been only a few months since FutureLearn made a change to limit access to course content and the number of marketing e-mails being sent out by them has increased.

Lily from FutureLearn is sending out more marketing e-mails. This increase in marketing to lapsed futurelearners is a signal that new enrollments are decreasing, so they are attempting to entice past enrollees to come back.


In which Coursera jumps the shark

If you do not know what it means to “jump the shark” read this explanation.

For-profit MOOCs are struggling. However, they will not tell you that. What they will say instead is that they are expanding, or adjusting their business model, or need to make changes in order to be sustainable so they can continue to offer courses. FutureLearn has made changes to this effect. Just so you know: taking more away from people and limiting access is not designed to help you as a student; it only helps the for-profit MOOC platform make more money off of you.

But back to Coursera. They are getting desperate. You see that in their 7-day trial approach, their requirement for specializations to be by paid subscription only, and through other changes and partnerships they have formed, such as this.

Perhaps that website/partnership is not legit. It is hard to tell. However, based on this information it looks legitimate. Coursera appears to now be selling itself to others to sell the courses and specializations through a third-party, knock-off outfit. This is shark jumping desperation.